May 14, 2024

St. Joseph voters will be asked to raise school levy to increase teacher pay

Posted May 14, 2024 8:04 PM


St. Joseph Post

St. Joseph voters will be asked in August to increase the school levy by 59-cents to increase teacher pay.

Assistant Superintendent Robert Sigrist says the increase in the school levy will also pay for raises for all St. Joseph School District employees, such as cooks and janitors.

“Our staff that are at the lower end of those pay scales, we would really like to bring those pay scales up, at the bottom especially,” Sigrist tells KFEQ/St. Joseph Post. “So this would be a good step in doing that.”

In fact, the St. Joseph School Board has indicated it wants to give district employees a flat $2,400 to $2,750 pay raise the first year if voters approve the levy increase. That would provide St. Joseph School District employees making the least the largest percentage pay raise.

The St. Joseph School District proposes giving up its Proposition C waiver in favor of the 59-cent increase to its levy. Proposition C created a special statewide sales tax Missouri school districts could use for teacher pay. Nearly all of Missouri’s school districts have given up their Prop C waiver in favor of larger local levies.

Sigrist says the St. Joseph School District no longer has competitive salaries as compared with the 32 comparable districts. Sigrist says the St. Joseph district has fallen behind in teacher pay.

“Again, that would be a large step in that direction of making us much more competitive,” Sigrist says. “It’s not going to put us anywhere near the top of those 32 districts that we kind of compare to, but at least would put us in a much more competitive space than what we are right now.”

Right now, St. Joseph ranks near the bottom of those 32 districts in teacher pay, despite the school board moving to add $1,300 to the base pay for teachers in the district.

Sigrist says the St. Joseph district needs to catch up with comparable districts.

“Education jobs are very competitive right now as a whole, from an industry-wide place, especially in the state of Missouri,” according to Sigrist. “We have a lot more teachers at retirement age than we do have teachers coming in out of colleges right now. And so, that space has become very, very competitive in the last few years and I think that will continue to become more competitive over the next several years.”

The tax increase is expected to raise $7.1 million annually.

You can follow Brent on X @GBrentKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.