KSD’s Board of Education recently placed Proposition S, a proposed 45-cent property tax increase, on the Aug. 8, 2023, ballot. If Prop S is approved, the additional revenue will be used to help achieve the two highest priorities that were identified by our constituents during the strategic planning process:
Increase safety and security
Prioritize all employees by increasing compensation and benefits
Last week’s email provided more details about how Prop S will help KSD hire three additional safety and security staff members if it is approved on Aug. 8. This week, we’re focusing on how this measure will help us support our teachers and other staff by increasing salaries and benefits.
Focus: Staff Support
One of the strategic priorities created by our community members is to “prioritize all employees by increasing compensation and benefits…” If the proposed 45-cent levy increase is approved on Aug. 8, the additional revenue will also be used to increase compensation for our teachers and other employees in addition to boosting our safety and security team. We anticipate that Proposition S will generate approximately $2 million that will be applied towards compensation.
The latest academic achievement data places KSD in the top eight percent of the 553 public school districts in Missouri. KSD students scored in the top three on 15 out of the 19 Missouri Assessment Program and End-of-Course exams among our 12 peer school districts. That put our students in first place for English Language Arts and Science, and second in math. We were fourth among peer districts in social studies.
Annual Progress Report Results
Top Three Assessment Exam Results Among Peer School Districts
The data shows that KSD’s students consistently demonstrate academic mastery in comparison with our peer districts. At the same time, our levy rate is the lowest and our teacher and support staff compensation is below several of our peer districts.
KSD employee compensation is set by salary schedules for each staff category. This is standard practice for public school districts. There are several salary schedules, including those for certified staff (teachers, etc.), classified employees (custodians, grounds and maintenance, etc.) and administrators (principals, assistant principals, etc.). These schedules establish compensation based on years of service and – in the case of certified staff – level of education. Staff salaries in KSD are not and will not be based on so-called merit pay. The schedules are reviewed and revised regularly through a collaborative process by district administrators and staff members who are part of the Human Resources department’s Salary and Benefits Committee. The updated salary schedules are ultimately submitted annually to the Board of Education for approval. KSD’s current salary schedules are available on the district website at www.ksdr1.net/district/about-us/employment.
Under the 2023-2024 salary schedule, KSD teachers will be paid between $41,894 as a starting salary and a maximum salary of $81,127 (which is only available to teachers with at least two Master’s degrees and at least 33 years of experience). KSD’s teachers have an average of 15 years of experience. In 2022, several teachers resigned from KSD to take positions with our peer districts with higher compensation. They had an average of 18 years of experience and a cumulative 107 years of teaching under their belts. We also had 13 certified staff members choose to retire this year, and retirements have increased steadily over the last three school years. The number of certified staff in KSD who have opted to leave education altogether has increased significantly since the 2020-2021 academic year. At the same time, there is a well-documented shortage of candidates in the teacher employment pool. Fewer people are choosing to pursue or maintain careers in public education.
If it passes, Proposition S will generate additional funds to increase staff compensation. This is an important step in attracting and retaining talented educators and staff members who play a crucial role in the academic success and overall well-being of students. KSD’s salary schedule is competitive for starting teachers, But our neighboring districts offer more money for more experienced teachers compared to our salary schedule. For instance, KSD teachers with 15 or more years of experience can potentially make about $15,000 more by taking a position with a neighboring district. Salaries for classified positions also need to be continually reviewed and adjusted in order to ensure that we are market competitive with other school districts and the private industry.
As a reminder, increasing staff salaries is just one of the two KSD strategic priorities that Prop S will help us address if it is approved. The other portion of the levy increase will be used to add up to three additional safety and security team members.
We will share additional details next week about how KSD manages its budget, how our expenditures and levy rates compare with our peer school districts and the potential impact of Prop S on property taxes.