JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri law requires school districts to pay new teachers at least $25,000 a year, but a budget bill being considered at the state capitol would ask districts to pay teachers $38,000 instead.

The state would pay for 70% of the raise, and the rest is on the district. But the money for raises is only available for schools where currently teachers make less than $38,000.

Harrisonville Superintendent Paul Mensching said teachers in his district start out at a minimum salary of $38,250, so his district wouldn’t be impacted by the teacher pay portion of the budget bill being increased.

“We won’t receive any additional funding,” Mensching said Thursday. “So when I was speaking with my colleagues in Cass County, those to the north, they are already above that threshold. And so there is not any additional revenue pumped in for those districts, and so you hear the argument from them, ‘Well what about us?’ Haha.” 

A district that doesn’t pay its starting teachers $38,000 a year could do so more easily in the future. The problem is the state wouldn’t pay the school district all the money that’s needed to do this.

Kansas City Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Linda Quinley said this isn’t a requirement, but it’s more so an incentive for school districts to raise their teacher pay. 

“If you can’t find the other 30%, then you can stay where you are,” Quinley said. “You don’t have to increase to 38 (thousand) because they’re not changing the law around minimum. They’re just putting it in the budget bill.”

KCPS pays its first-year teachers more than $38,000 a year, so they’re not affected by the budget bill either. Paul Katnik, with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said the state’s the second worst in the nation in average starting pay.

“We dance around with Montana right now. We’re $700 above Montana, so right now, they’re 51st, and we’re 50th,” he said Thursday.

A teacher’s salary is more than $51,000 a year on average in Missouri, according to the National Education Association. The states rank 47th in the nation on that. Missouri’s ranking for average teacher pay, according to Katnik, isn’t a whole lot better than its starting teacher salary ranking.

“I think Arkansas is the only state that has an average salary below ours,” he continued. “The rest of our border states do better on average salary than we do as well.”

The average teacher salary in Kansas is more than $53,000, according to the NEA. It ranks 37th.