Teacher Wages Bill

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JEFFERSON CITY - A board made up of state representatives met Monday afternoon to discuss a bill to raise the minimum wage for teachers in Missouri. The Emerging Issues in Education board discussed House Bill 1626, which proposes a $5,000 raise to the minimum wage for Missouri teachers.

Currently, the minimum wage for teachers in Missouri is $25,000 – if passed, that number would increase to $30,000. The raise would be funded through a $5 million stipend. Mike Wood, a lobbyist for the Missouri State Teachers Association, said this bill would help improve the quality of education in Missouri. 

“I think it’s going to promote people going into education by having a higher guaranteed beginning teacher salary,” Wood said.

Wood said the minimum wage increase would benefit all school districts, because districts with more money will have to offer higher salaries in order to acquire teachers from other school districts. Kathy Steinhoff, a math teacher at Hickman High School in Columbia, said lawmakers aren’t focusing on the right issues.

“It’s a very feeble attempt to show support toward local schools. It’s not enough, I mean, it would be a nice place to start, but that’s only going to address very few school districts in our state and what they really need to be doing is helping all the school districts in our state,” Steinhoff said.

Wood said he doesn’t expect the bill to pass this year due to timing constraints, but expects changes to come next year. If the bill does pass, minimum salaries would rise starting in the 2017-2018 school year.

The bill would also raise salaries for teachers with master’s degrees and 10 years of teaching experience. Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles, said he personally knows a teacher with such qualifications who cannot get a job and doesn’t think raising minimum salaries will help teachers.

“This bill will price good teachers out of the market,” Bahr said.

Steinhoff said although she thinks the bill won’t be very effective, $25,000 isn’t adequate pay for a teacher starting out.

“That just seems ridiculous. To start your career as a teacher with the education that’s required at $25,000, especially when it’s one of the most important jobs out there. We need to shoot our aim for being above the national average in terms of average teacher salaries,” Steinhoff said.

Wood said he expects the legislature to review the bill again next week.