Missouri Lawmakers Push for Higher Teacher Pay Amid Senate Opposition

Missouri House legislators are once again prioritizing the passage of bills aimed at boosting teacher recruitment and retention in the state. Republican Representative Ed Lewis of Moberly is sponsoring legislation based on the recommendations made by the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s blue ribbon commission. This marks the third consecutive year that Lewis has sponsored teacher recruitment and retention legislation. According to Lewis, the shortage of teachers is a clear problem that affects both public and private schools.

According to data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, an average of 43.3% of teachers leave Missouri school districts after three years.

The Missouri National Education Association, a teachers’ union, reports that the state ranks last in average starting teacher pay and 47th in average teacher pay.

Through his bill, Lewis aims to raise the minimum teacher pay, implement differentiated salary schedules for hard-to-staff areas, and increase scholarships for teacher recruitment, among other measures.

During the hearing, Representative Ann Kelley, a Republican from Lamar, suggested the inclusion of support staff in the bill, emphasizing their essential role in the success of schools.

However, Lewis expressed concerns about the potential fiscal impact of expanding the bill’s provisions.

Last year, Lewis introduced separate bills to raise teacher pay, but they were combined into a single bill by the committee. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the House but faced filibusters in the Senate, preventing further debate.

Another bill aimed at raising teachers’ minimum salary is being sponsored by Representative Willard Haley, a Republican from Eldon. Haley’s bill seeks to raise the base salary to $46,000 by the 2027-28 school year, with an estimated cost of up to $17.5 million.

Representative Dan Stacy, a Republican from Blue Springs, suggested linking a base-pay increase to a decrease in another area of the budget. However, Haley emphasized the importance of prioritizing education funding.

No opposition to the legislation was presented during the hearing.

Perry Gorrell, interim legislative liaison for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, stated that raising the base teacher pay is the Commissioner of Education’s top priority.

Lobbyists for the National Education Association and various school districts also voiced their support for the bills, emphasizing the need to attract and retain highly qualified teachers.

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