SPS plans pay rises, teacher minimum wage increase in fall

The starting salary for Springfield public school teachers will increase to $41,544 this fall, an increase of $1,598.

This is the first time it will be above $40,000.

All employees are set to receive a cost of living increase of 3% or more, with teachers getting 4% – the biggest percentage increase since 1991.

Combined with separate, built-in “staggered” increases based on experience or education level, employees will see an overall salary increase of 5% on average.

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The district also addressed starting salaries for support staff. The new minimum wage in the district is $14 an hour, but the majority of employees will earn $15 or more.

The state’s largest district will spend $12.7 million to increase employee pay in the 2022-23 year, up from $9.2 million a year ago.

The higher pay was the result of months of labor negotiations between the district and the Springfield National Education Association, a teachers’ union.

Laura Mullins

“That’s why people have us. Collective bargaining is the meat of our union,” said Laura Mullins, president of Springfield NEA.

This year, Springfield NEA negotiated on behalf of five organized groups – representing 70% of employees – and three others that have recently formed or are in the process of forming.

The revised contracts, if ratified by the five groups of employees, will be submitted Tuesday to the school board for final approval.

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They constitute the last element of the budget proposed by the district for the year 2022-23. The board must approve next year’s spending plan by June 30.

This proposed change to the starting salary for support staff represents an average increase of 15.13% over the 2021-22 starting salary.

All employees on classified schedules will receive a minimum 3% cost-of-living increase, plus a step for eligible employees, depending on the district.

Details of the wage increases were provided to parents in an email Thursday.

Collective bargaining with employee groups, NEA

Springfield Public Schools is engaged in collective bargaining with six employee groups. five of which are represented by Springfield NEA:

  • Teachers, librarians and counselors
  • School nurses
  • Secretarial/clerical workers
  • Maintenance, custodial and supply center employees
  • School police and dispatchers

Teamsters Local #245 represents bus drivers and bus helpers. An agreement was reached in the fall to increase the starting wage for bus drivers to $20 an hour, and it remains in effect.

Employees eligible for a “staggered” raise will receive one this year, the district said in Thursday’s email.

This spring, two other groups of employees formed, including:

  • Paraprofessionals, interpreters, behavioral technicians and LPNs in the classroom
  • Speech therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and school psychologists

A third group of employees, nutrition services, is due to vote at the end of June. The three new groups are expected to be represented by Springfield NEA.

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Claudette Riley is the News-Leader’s educational reporter. Email news tips to [email protected]

William M. Mayer