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Possible pay cuts concern longtime Hickman Mills teachers

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Hickman Mills School District is considering cutting into some longtime teachers' salaries so it can reinvest, attract and retain teachers who have earned advanced degrees.

A Thursday night school board planning meeting was packed with dozens of teachers who were there to hear the district’s proposal to make teachers’ salaries more competitive.

Superintendent Dennis Carpenter said teacher turnover in his district is 20 percent each year, which equates to about $2 million lost as the school district invests in training teachers who then leave for higher paying jobs in surrounding districts. He says the issue must be addressed.

So a committee of teachers, union leaders and administrators developed a plan that would create a more competitive salary chart. That plan would invest $800,000 more for teachers with advanced degrees.

But those pay raises could come at a cost, as the plan could slash the pay for about 73 longtime teachers by up to $7,000 a year, a move they described as an unfair demotion.

“It is very heartbreaking to go back and have to tell my teachers that this is the best we can do, and you’re going to have to take a reduction. Not a reduction in what you do, not a reduction in job performance, but a reduction in pay to do the same thing that you’re doing now,” said Rosie Davis, National Education Association president for Hickman Mills and one of the 73 teachers who could be facing a pay cut.

Nothing was officially decided on Thursday night as the meeting was just a planning meeting. A vote could be held next during a meeting next Thursday or in future months.