Mehlville School District increases pay for starting teachers
The pay for beginning teachers in the Mehlville School District will be increased for the 2004-2005 school year, but just about every other step in the teacher salary schedule will remain the same.
Board members unanimously approved the 2004-2005 certified salary schedule during a recent closed session — a pay scale that almost mirrors the current one. While some structural changes have been implemented — including the addition of a new channel and longevity steps — most employees can look to this year's salary schedule to figure out how much they will be earning during the next academic year.
Certified salaries for the coming school year are projected at more than $3 million less than the current school year, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Randy Charles, who serves as the district's chief financial officer, told Board of Education members during a May discussion of the draft fiscal 2005 budget.
The draft 2004-2005 budget projects certified salaries totaling $39,583,571, down from the projected cost for the current school year of $42,787,501 — a nearly 7.5 percent decrease.
Teachers are looking at an overall salary increase of roughly 2.3 percent, Charles said in May, noting that the draft fiscal 2005 budget gives teachers their steps and channel changes, while building principals should see a 1 percent increase in salaries.
The district's Central Office administrators have said they voluntarily will decline any pay increases for the coming school year.
Teachers received an overall 4.02 percent increase during the 2003-2004 school year.
For the 2004-2005 school year, beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree will be paid $31,340 — the same amount teachers who will begin their second year at Mehlville will be paid during the coming school year. This year starting teachers were paid $30,725 and were informed that next year's starting teachers would be paid at second-year levels.
By increasing beginning teacher salaries from $30,725 to $31,340 for the 2004-2005 school year, their salaries will increase 2 percent, but second-year teacher salaries will increase 0 percent and remain at $31,340.
Contacted for comment regarding the 2004-2005 salary schedule, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources A.D. McClain did not return this newspaper's phone calls before press time.
However, during a June 2003 interview, McClain told the Call that for the 2005-2006 school year, third-year teachers will be paid $31,954, which also will be the salary for beginning teachers.
If beginning teachers are paid $31,954 for the 2005-2006 school year, their salaries would have increased 1.95 percent from the 2004-2005 school year and 4 percent from the 2003-2004 school year.
"That way we get the beginning salary up more competitive with the median in St. Louis County," McClain explained to the Call in June 2003.
The current salary schedule includes four channels: bachelor's degree; master's degree; master's degree plus 30 hours of graduate work; and master's degree plus 45 hours.
However, a new channel has been added to the school district's 2004-2005 salary schedule, which allows certified employees with a bachelor's degree to advance a channel who also have completed 15 hours toward a master's degree.
Each channel also includes steps that represent each year that certified employee has worked. Employees' salaries typically increase each year they work and each step they move up the pay scale.
Employees who are eligible for the Bachelor's + 15 hours channel will make about $921 more next year than they would have if they had remained in the first Bachelor's channel — regardless of step or years they have worked.
For instance, teachers who finished their first year of teaching at Mehlville this year and have accumulated at least 15 hours toward an approved master's degree will be paid $32,261 during the 2004-2005 school year — a 5 percent salary increase from the 2003-2004 first-year Bachelor's salary of $30,725 and a 2.94 percent salary increase from the second-year and first-year steps of the 2004-2005 Bachelor's channel salary of $31,340.
First-year teachers who begin teaching with at least 15 hours toward an approved master's degree will be paid $31,647 next year — a 3 percent increase from the 2003-2004 beginning salary for teachers in the Bachelor's channel and a .98 percent increase from the 2004-2005 beginning salary for teachers in the Bachelor's channel.
Another change to Mehlville's salary schedule for certified employees includes the renaming of the schedule's highest channel, which currently is known as the Master's + 45 channel.
During the 2004-2005 school year, that channel will be known as the Multiple Advanced Degrees Channel.
Information provided to this newspaper in June 2003 by McClain indicates that effective Sept. 1, teachers on the Master's + 45 channel will be "grandfathered," but no other teachers will be allowed to advance to that channel unless they meet certain provisions.
"At that point in time, nobody else can get this schedule by just getting 45 hours," McClain told the Call last year.
At that time, only teachers who possess an educational specialist degree, double master's degrees in approved areas or who have earned National Board Certification will be allowed on the professional schedule.
Board of Education President Cindy Christopher declined to comment on the salary schedule for certified employees in a telephone interview. However, in June 2003, Christopher explained to the Call the rationale behind the new provision.
"The thought behind that with the Master's + 45, one of the things with No Child Left Behind and always raising the bar is to try to get the most qualified teacher into the classroom in front of the students," the board president previously told the Call. "And a lot of teachers have taken the extra hours to get to the Master's + 45, but haven't taken them in any specific subject area. So we would like to try to encourage them to kind of focus in on another area of interest to them because 45 hours is enough to get another master's.
"And so instead of just taking a class here and a class there that maybe applies to what they're doing now but maybe doesn't focus in on something (that) could benefit overall, we want to try to encourage them to get that second master's, so actually get a second degree instead of just taking the classes ..."
The current Master's + 45 channel and the 2004-2005 Multiple Advanced Degrees Channel are identical and employees who are paid at those channel levels will experience salary increases next year as they move up a step, but those figures have not increased from the 2003-2004 salary schedule pay rates.
The case is the same for employees in the Bachelor's, Master's and Master's + 30 channels. Their salaries will increase because they have worked in the district an additional year — not because increases were added to the salary schedules, which is what has been done in prior years.
However, two sets of employees will benefit from an unprecedented addition to the Mehlville salary schedule during the 2004-2005 school year.
Employees who have reached the tops of the Master's and Multiple Advanced Degrees channels next year will experience increases to their yearly salaries. Employees have to work at least 18 years before they can reach the tops of the two channels.
Teachers who have sat at the top of the Master's channel for at least five years — who currently are being paid $56,881 a year — will receive a longevity step and $200 will be added to their yearly scheduled salary at the beginning of their sixth year, according to the schedule approved by board members May 25. The salaries of those eligible employees will be increased by .35 percent to $57,081.
Teachers who have been paid at the top of the Master's + 45/Multiple Advanced Degrees channel — who currently are paid $65,693 — for at least five years will receive a longevity step during the 2004-2005 school year and $500 will be added to their yearly scheduled salary at the beginning of their sixth year.
The salaries of employees who are eligible for the Multiple Advanced Degrees longevity step will be increased by .76 percent to $66,193.
Multiple Advanced Degrees employees who are paid a longevity step for five years will receive a second longevity step and be paid an additional $500 to their annual scheduled salary — a .76 percent increase to $66,693.
In the coming year, teachers who have earned an approved National Board Certification or educational specialist degree will have $500 added to their annual salary — the same incentive teachers were given during the 2003-2004 academic year.
Mehlville teachers who earn a doctorate in education or an approved doctorate degree in another field will have $1,000 added to their scheduled salary — the same incentive teachers were given during the 2003-2004 school year.
While Central Office administrators have said they voluntarily will decline any pay increases for the coming school year, board members have taken no formal action regarding other administrator salaries and salaries for classified employees.