Joplin teachers will see a raise of between $1,400 and $2,000 next year following Tuesday night's adoption of a new agreement with the school district.

The agreement, which was negotiated between administrators and representatives of the Joplin affiliate of the National Education Association, the district’s recognized teachers union, will adjust the salary schedule and advance eligible teachers a step on the pay rate structure. It was unanimously approved by the Board of Education.

“It is definitely a celebration for all of our teachers,” said Crystal Stokes, a JNEA representative and middle school teacher, at the board’s meeting.

The district’s salary schedules are modeled on a stepped structure with pay rates increasing as teachers move further up the step system. Steps are not based on years of experience.

A first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree will make $37,754 under the new agreement, and salary levels increase as teachers gain higher levels of education or move along the step schedule, maxing out at $60,561.

The board in recent years has prioritized boosting teacher salaries. Board President Sharrock Dermott said the new agreement will help keep them comparable to those of surrounding school districts.

“One of our goals is to be competitive with our (neighboring) districts,” he said. “This takes us a step toward that.”

The total estimated cost of implementing the salary increases will be $1.15 million. That amount will be included in the district’s operating budget for fiscal year 2020.

“We’re moving forward with our salary schedules, but we’re also making sure it’s sustainable,” said Sarah Mwangi, director of educational support and human resources.

Stokes said the new salary agreement was ratified by JNEA members before Tuesday night’s meeting. This marked the fourth year that JNEA has collectively bargained and negotiated such agreements on behalf of Joplin teachers, counselors and librarians, and it was “very much a success,” she said.

The board also approved salary increases for staff roles including substitute teachers, clerical staff, food service workers, social workers, payroll clerks and administrators. The total cost for the implementation of those salary adjustments will be $506,046.

In other business, the board approved:

• An additional $7,326 for the remodel of a portion of Memorial Education Center for Franklin Technology Center’s adult program, a project that is nearly complete.

• An additional $16,289 in materials for turf replacement at Junge Field.

• A $238,350 purchase and installation of new light fixtures at Cecil Floyd, Kelsey Norman, Jefferson and Eastmorland elementary schools.

• The purchase of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s “Into Reading” language arts curriculum for grades 2-5. The cost over six years will be $472,216. The program was piloted by about a dozen Joplin teachers during the 2018-19 year and was recommended for adoption by a committee of teachers from all elementary schools, said Stephen Gilbreth, assistant superintendent of learning services.

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.

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