A change in salary schedules for Hickman Mills teachers aimed at making the district more competitive for top teachers is coming at a difficult cost.
More than 70 of some of the district’s longest-serving teachers will be absorbing pay cuts — many losing $6,000 to $7,000, with some losses exceeding $10,000.
“This is not a decision I wanted to make,” board President Eric Lowe said Friday about the board’s choice in Thursday night’s meeting.
“I wish our financial circumstances weren’t what they are,” he said. “But we’re here to make decisions in the best interest of the district as a whole and the kids.”
The decision frustrated the teachers who will see their pay cut. They wanted the district to allow them to remain at their current salaries as the salary schedule was revamped.
The salary cuts will persist beyond retirement for some because they also will reduce the annual amount of their retirement pension, said Leta Hogue, a teacher who said her salary will fall by more than $9,700.
It’s as if the district wants her to feel “disposable,” she said. “They are taking money out of my pocket every month for the rest of my life.”
Superintendent Dennis Carpenter, who is in his second year, had been urging the board to consider a new salary schedule.
The situation facing the south Kansas City school district is that most area districts have salary schedules that limit the number of years teachers can get an increase without seeking post-graduate education.
Other districts also tend to offer more significant salary increases as teachers work toward master’s and doctorate degrees.
Hickman Mills, which has about 550 teachers, will inject about $1 million into the overall salary schedule, Carpenter said. More than 400 teachers will see their pay boosted. Keeping adversely affected teachers at their current salaries would have cost the district roughly $460,000 more a year on top of that, he said.
State records show that among the 15 closest and most comparable area districts on the Missouri side, Hickman Mills is next to last in the average experience of its teachers, ahead of only Raytown, and next to last in the percentage of teachers with advanced degrees, ahead of only Kansas City.
Some people who spoke at the board meeting asked whether administrator salaries were taking any cuts, but the board thought that those salaries were appropriate.
Among those same comparable school districts, state records show, Hickman Mills is also in the lower range for average administrator salaries. It’s ahead of four districts: Kansas City, Liberty, Raymore-Peculiar and Center.
Frustration also ran high because of past decisions the district has made and is still recovering from as it carries out recommendations from a critical state audit a year ago.
“We get in these spots because people didn’t make tough decisions years ago,” Lowe said.
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