Missouri House approves legislation seeking to increase minimum salary for teachers | education

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JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri – A broad education bill was approved at the Missouri House this week and includes a minimum salary increase for teachers from $25,000 to $38,000.

The bill also seeks to increase the amount the state can give school districts for the operating budget each year.

The bill is now headed to the Missouri Senate.

Missouri ranks 50th in median teacher salaries, according to the National Education Association.

Under legislation passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday, 70% of the teachers’ salary increase will be paid by the state for four years. But because the bill allocates more money in formula funding to schools, districts should be able to afford the full salary increase in the future, said deputy co-sponsor Ed Lewis, R-Moberly, while debating the proposal.

The bill also seeks to create scholarships for students who commit to teaching in challenging jobs after graduation, but that provision has yet to be made.

Lewis said funding for the grant is included in the budget approved by the House last week and currently before the Senate.

“We wanted to make sure we could hire and retain teachers with this scholarship,” he said.

The financial note on the bill says that when fully implemented in fiscal 2032, the cost will be between $277.4 million and $314.8 million.

The bill passed 145 to 5. The only Democratic “no” vote came from Representative Kevin Windham, D-Street. Lewis, who said he opposed the bill because of adding a provision to enable more school staff to serve as school protection officers.

Rep. Maggie Nornburn, D-Kansas City, said she voted for the bill to “bring more dollars into classrooms.” But she said clauses added to the bill as modifications, such as the “Stop the Bleed” program that requires a tourniquet every semester, fail to fix the problems.

“In saying that this is the state we’re in right now is that we have to recognize that in every classroom, we have to prevent students from bleeding and dying and bleeding to death rather than actually addressing gun violence in our incredibly problematic state,” Nornburn said.

Other amendments added to the bill during House debate include developing a personal financial cycle for high schools and increasing the number of retired teachers returning to classrooms as substitute teachers.

Districts will also be allowed to create differentiated pay scales to incentivize hard-to-hire positions and schools.

The law is also folded into Neosho Republican Rep. Ben Baker’s Expanded Learning Opportunities Act, which requires districts to inform students of opportunities to earn school credits outside of the classroom.

The Missouri Independent is part of the State Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a public charity. They can be found at missouriindependent.com.