MEHLVILLE, Mo. — Voters will soon decide if teachers and support staff in the Mehlville School District should get paid more.
Mehlville teacher salaries trail the St. Louis County average by more than $7,000. For first-year teacher pay, that gap is close to $2,000, according to the district's website.
The district wants to change that, and Proposition E would help them do it.
Parent Rebecca Bahora spends a lot of time at her children's elementary school and, while volunteering, she's seen first-hand the magic teachers pull off daily.
"As a mom, I have three children that I deal with, but when you think about it and go into a classroom, they have 20 different children, they have 20 different personalities, they have 20 different struggles, 20 different learning styles, so when you’re trying to cater all those needs, not only the educational need, but also the emotional support need. It's a struggle for sure," she said.
That's why Bahora decided to lead the community advocacy group for Prop E.
"Every child in the Mehlville School District deserves the best teachers that money can buy," she said.
Prop E is a 31-cent tax levy increase on the April ballot that would give not only teachers more money but also support staff.
Shannon Pike, the executive director of human resources, said passing this proposition is necessary.
"It’s definitely important because we want to keep the high-quality teachers that we have, but we want to make sure that we’re competitive with the other districts around the county, so that we attract the highest quality teachers to be put in our classrooms, so that we offer the best education for all of our students," she said.
That's been difficult for the district to do recently, according to Pike, from worker shortages to teachers leaving to a more competitive job market.
"We need our bus drivers, we need our custodians, we need our school food nutrition and all of the people that service our kids each and every day," she said.
According to the district's website, teacher resignations nearly doubled last year and the district is consistently losing staff to other areas that offer higher pay.
Currently, the Mehlville School District has 17 custodian positions open and 15 bus driver vacancies.
Pike said an added challenge now is that their competition has grown.
"It’s not just within the county districts, but it’s within the market, so ensuring that we’re paying attention to what the market is offering and so that we are offering those benefits to our employees, regardless of what job they are doing in our district," she said.
Superintendent Chris Gaines said salary studies revealed just how far behind the district was for basically every job.
"We want the best teachers that we can have in classrooms. We want the best bus drivers that we can have transporting back and forth and we want great food service workers and great custodians cleaning our buildings and so we need to invest in those people so that we can, one, attract them and, two, retain them over time," he said.
It's an investment that, Gaines said, impacts the community as a whole and it's now in the voters' hands.
"One of the things we saw during COVID was how important teachers were in their kids' lives and so we would hope that our community would invest in our people, the way that we invest in their kids," he said.
If Prop E passes, then the funds would be used to increase salaries for the 2023-2024 school year.
It just needs a majority "yes" of more than 50% to pass.
The election takes place on Tuesday, April 4, 2023.
The district is hosting open interviews for custodians and food technicians on Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at Mehlville School District Central Office located at 3120 Lemay Ferry Road.
You can learn more about upcoming interviews for the district here.
You can donate in support of the Prop E campaign here.
Author :Mercedes Mackay
Source Url :https://www.ksdk.com/article/news/education/mehlville-school-district-pushes-higher-salaries-teachers-support-staff/63-02186e38-0de1-43d9-9e61-9ea526631e5a
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