Board approves new salary proposal in state budget

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There was a heavy, sometimes tear-jerking discussion for the Perry County School District No. 32 Board of Education during its latest meeting on May 11 in the Old Senior High School.
The topic centered around a salary proposal for fiscal year 2023.
A joint committee of Missouri House and Senate members recently voted to restore the funding within the Missouri state budget, intended to retain and recruit K-12 educators. Teacher pay in the state, which lags far behind national averages was among Missouri Governor Mike Parson’s priorities in his budget.
That will benefit teachers at Perry County schools.
The state’s minimum salary for starting teachers currently sits at $25,000, among the lowest in the country. That figure could rise to $38,000 under the upcoming year’s state budget that Parson has to sign by Friday.
The starting teacher salary for teachers at Perry County is $33,955 and the state would pay 70 percent of the increase with the remaining coming from the district which includes benefits.
“However, increase is only for teachers that are below $38,000,” Perry County Superintendent Andy Comstock said. “Which means that a veteran teacher that makes above that would not see that raise.”
Comstock noted that the school is currently $1.256 million underbudget for the year, due to some unforeseen additional revenue as the district’s assessed evaluation going up and Prop C (sales tax) going up as well.
“With inflation, sales tax going up helps the school,” Comstock said.
The district will also benefit from the weighted average daily attendance rising to $1,255 next year. With the district having approximately 2,100 students that is about $400,000 in new money. The state budget will also offer fully funded transportation for the first time since 1991.
“Now can we trust that they won’t eventually cut transportation?” Comstock said. “No because I firmly believe they will cut that first.”
The salary increase is something that is optional for schools, but Comstock believes that it is something the district needs to do.
“If we are one of the only school districts that don’t go to $38,000 what does it say about us and what we think about teachers,” Comstock said. “I wouldn’t present something that I didn’t think we could handle. Not just next year, but for the year after that and so on.”
Comstock noted that teachers deserve the increase as well.
“They have stood by us,” he said after a pausing to compose himself.
Comstock would also like to see increases for veteran teachers and other staff in the coming years as well.
“That’s part of our plan to make us competitive,” Comstock said. “We know our neighbor to the north is at $40,000-plus. We want to be in the ballpark with Ste. Genevieve and this would give us the opportunity to do that. The goal is to attract and keep the best teachers.”
In September of 2021, the board approved the purchase of 15 school buses. In an order of business, the district requested proposals for lease purchase agreements from all the local banks. The board reviewed the proposals and approved the lease purchase agreement from the Bank of Missouri at three percent for five years.
To begin the meeting, the board recognized multiple students for their achievements in agriculture education, FFA, and Skills USA State competitions.
In his report, Comstock discussed the cash flow report and the budget analysis as compared to this time last year. He mentioned summer school plans for kindergarten through fifth grades and credit recovery for sixth through ninthgrades. He said that the middle school Phase III is getting close to pouring the slab floor and that the steel will be arriving ahead of schedule.
The next board meeting will be held June 8.

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