Columbia teachers will see an overall average 4.49 percent salary increase next year under a compensation plan approved Thursday by the Columbia School Board.
The overall increase across all district employees will be 5.02 percent.
Heather McArthur, the district’s chief financial officer, presented the plan to the board, which continues to collapse salary columns from five to three in the salary schedule matrix.
The school board began revising the salary schedule in 2015. It began with a nine-column plan that has shrunk each year; the 2019-20 school year is the culmination of five years of revisions.
“This has been a long time coming,” McArthur said.
The district wants to move toward a simpler salary schedule based on education and experience of teachers and administration, according to previous reporting.
McArthur addressed the increase in hourly rates. The model shows step increases more quickly based on experience because she said these are the workers who go home with less money at the end of the day.
The board also approved a benefits plan good for the next three years.
Kathy Steinhoff, president of the Columbia Missouri National Education Association, told the board the teachers group was able to come to an agreement with the board on all but one aspect — allowing CMNEA to seek certification election through the State Board of Mediation in order to negotiate exclusively with the board on behalf of teachers.
Baumstark said the two sides have come to an impasse as a direct result of House Bill 1413, which requires that CMNEA hold an election and be certified by the State Board of Mediation by June 30.
“Just because we may have a collective bargaining agreement that will expire at the end of the regular school year does not mean that we won’t continue to work with and listen to teachers when it comes to salaries, working conditions, and other concerns,” Baumstark wrote in an email to district teachers. “The Board of Education has an obligation to follow the law.”
At the meeting, Steinhoff told board members they were favoring a law that supports their decision — a law she thinks will be found unconstitutional — over collective bargaining with teachers.
“You can choose to collaborate with teachers and work in the best interest of our students or waste time on unnecessary conflict that does nothing to improve our schools, that does nothing to motivate teachers to stay and does nothing to attract the best and brightest to come teach in Columbia,” Steinhoff said.
In an email later, Steinhoff explained that a court order prohibited the Board of Mediation from conducting certification elections for teachers and, in effect, made it impossible to get the necessary certification.
The compensation plan also addressed additions and reductions for the 2019-20 school year. According to McArthur’s presentation, the number of teachers and staff members will be increased. The only proposed reduction is the position of instructional technologists, who support teachers in helping integrate technology into classrooms. These positions will be repurposed into instructional mentors, according to McArthur.
Baumstark said the program including those positions began when the district started implementing technology into schools through tools such as Smart Boards and iPads.
“We’re past that point now,” Baumstark said. “Our teachers are so much more well-versed in that.”
The instructional mentors — one for elementary school and one for middle school — will help with general classroom instruction. Baumstark said this will affect three remaining instructional technologists in the 2020-21 school year.
Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.