Average salary for teachers, staff upped by 6.5 percent

By Jeff Wells

Globe Staff Writer

The Joplin R-8 School District will spend over $2.1 million more on salaries next school year, giving employees an average raise of 6.5 percent.

The Board of Education on Tuesday night approved boosting its spending on payroll for the 2005-06 school year by $2,185,566.

The base pay will increase by $1,680, to $29,440, for a teacher with a bachelor's degree, and by $1,950, to $31,000, for a teacher with a master's degree. Teachers also will be allowed to advance up the pay scale.

Superintendent Jim Simpson said the decision is part of a multiyear plan to increase Joplin's benefits in an effort to attract and retain quality educators.

Simpson said the district is in the top third of Southwest Missouri districts in terms of pay, and that the administration's goal is to be in the top three in the next five years.

"We are committed very strongly as one of the tenets of our administration's philosophy that we can't get to where we want to be academically unless we have the talent," Simpson said.

Individual percent increases will vary based on where employees are on the salary schedule and whether they receive a step increase.

The pay for the 28th step, the highest on the scale for a teacher with a bachelor's degree, will increase to $39,660 from $39,290. The pay for the 30th step, the highest for a teacher with a master's degree, will increase to $45,050 from $44,650. Step increases are typically granted annually.

The board also increased stipends for teachers who coach sports or advise activities by 6.5 percent, and increased mileage pay to 38 cents a mile from 31 cents.

In addition to teachers and administrators, raises will be applied to the salary scales for clerks, instructional aides, nurses, custodians, bus drivers, craftsmen and food service workers.

Steve Graddy, the board's budget committee chairman, said pay in the R-8 district has increased at a rate greater than inflation seven of the past eight years.

"What we are doing is making the profession more attractive to those seniors who are graduating and going to college," Graddy said.

Terry McDermid, Joplin National Education Association president, said the raise may help the district retain teachers.

"Teachers have left our district, and the reason they left is salary," McDermid said. "They could make more going elsewhere."

Annie O'Toole, a first-year, second-grade teacher at Duquesne Elementary School, said the move shows that the board supports its employees.

"I think it is really great that the board wants to do it," O'Toole said. "It is going to attract quality teachers and should help keep those high-quality teachers that are already here."

This Week's Circulars