Columbia teachers earn more than average

Teachers here make $2,000 more than those elsewhere in Missouri.
Wednesday, December 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:33 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

These days, it pays to be a teacher at Grant Elementary School. According to a new report on the Columbia Public School District, teachers at Grant earn $42,465 on average for their full-time services, almost $4,000 more than the state’s median salary.

The information released Monday in the 2002-03 report required by the state shows that teachers in the Columbia district earn about $2,000 more than the state average. It also shows that the district exceeds the state average in other categories, including the percentage of students entering four-year colleges or universities and the percentage of job placements for vocational students.

Mary Laffey, director of human resources, said Grant has such a high average because of the stable community in which it’s located.

Shepard Boulevard Elementary School had the highest percentage of teachers with advanced degrees, at more than 78 percent.

Laffey said this is because of a relatively low turnover rate and the length of time teachers have been with the district. Although Shepard has recently become a Title 1 school — meaning it receives federal money for low-income students — its neighborhoods had a great deal of affluence in the past, Laffey said.

Generally speaking, she said, schools that pay lower overall salaries are in less affluent areas and have younger teachers who are less experienced and who are more likely to change jobs.

Oakland Junior High School has one of the lowest salary averages in the district. That’s largely because the school changed grade levels several times over four years in the mid 1990s, and 80 percent of its faculty changed.

Another significant statistic for the district is that it continues to exceed the state average in the percentage of students going to four-year colleges — this year by more than 28 percent. Also, 87 percent of Columbia’s vocational students get jobs, 6 percent more than the state average.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Mallory said the district is pleased but not satisfied, with the statistics. Mallory said it’s important to compare the district not only to state averages but to districts similar to Columbia in size and student body makeup, such as Blue Springs and Liberty in the Kansas City area and Hazelwood and Parkway in the St. Louis area.

However, Mallory said, it is too soon to compare statistics from the various districts because figures from other districts could change when the state compiles the data and publishes a comprehensive report.

Other highlights in Columbia’s report include:

    Rock Bridge High School has its highest percentage of students continuing to four-year institutions in recent years, at 79.94 percent — more than a 15 percent increase from last year.

    The dropout rate for the district has decreased to 4.29 percent, a continuing improvement during the last several years, but is still higher than the state average.

    Missouri Assessment Program scores are now broken down by the ethnicity, social status, disability and English proficiency categories of the No Child Left Behind Act.

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