Top pay for Lindbergh teachers ranks ninth in St. Louis County

Board considers authorizing Simpson to form pay panel

Lindbergh High School students walk out of class in support of higher teacher pay last spring.

Lindbergh High School students walk out of class in support of higher teacher pay last spring.

By Mike Anthony

The top salary for Lindbergh Schools teachers ranked ninth of 22 St. Louis County school districts for the 2015-2016 school year, according to information compiled by the Missouri State Teachers Association.

For the past school year, the top salary for Lindbergh teachers was $86,750, while the top salary for teachers in St. Louis County was the Clayton School District’s $102,277, according to information in the Missouri State Teachers Association’s salary and benefits report that has been distributed by the Lindbergh National Education Association, or LNEA.

Lindbergh’s salary of $38,750 for starting teachers ranked 14th of the 22 county school districts for the 2015-2016 school year.

Clayton and Kirkwood paid the top salary for starting teachers in the county at $43,000.

But Lindbergh teacher salaries lag compared to other county school districts for the maximum pay for a bachelor’s degree, the salary for a bachelor’s degree with 150 hours of additional education, the minimum pay for a master’s degree and the maximum pay for a master’s degree without additional graduate hours.

For the past school year, Lindbergh’s maximum pay for a bachelor’s degree of $45,750 ranked 17th of the 22 county school districts, while Riverview Gardens’ salary of $64,819 was first. Kirkwood ranked second at $62,932 and Mehlville’s salary of $43,208 ranked 19th.

Pattonville’s $77,250 salary for a bachelor’s degree with 150 hours of additional education was tops in St. Louis County, compared to Lindbergh’s $46,700, which ranked 21st, along with Mehlville, of the 22 county school districts. Ferguson-Florissant ranked second at $74,778.

Lindbergh’s $39,800 minimum pay for a master’s degree ranked 20th in St. Louis County, while Clayton’s salary of $47,500 was first. Kirkwood ranked second at $46,000, while Mehlville’s pay of $38,948 ranked 21st.

Clayton’s $88,626 maximum pay for a master’s degree without additional graduate hours was tops in St. Louis County, compared to Lindbergh’s $67,150, which ranked 20th. Kirkwood ranked second at $85,509, while Mehlville’s salary of $66,235 ranked 21st.

In June, the Lindbergh board voted unanimously to approve a salary schedule that provides an average raise of 1.25 percent for teachers for the 2016-2017 school year.

Teachers will not advance a step on the salary schedule for having another year of experience. To provide for step increases, an average 3-percent pay raise is needed to fund the pay schedule.

Under the salary schedule, teacher pay for the current school year ranges from $39,234 to $87,834.

Lindbergh teachers and their supporters have expressed dissatisfaction with the salary schedule for the current school year.

In July, LNEA President Kim Scronce announced teachers would work to contract, or withhold voluntary services, until they see “significant progress” on a series of demands the union has made.

One demand was the immediate formation of a salary schedule committee — an issue that has been discussed during two dialogue sessions between school board members and LNEA leadership.

During the second dialogue session, which took place last week, board President Kathy Kienstra said the board was willing to authorize Superintendent Jim Simpson to establish a salary schedule committee, based on certain conditions.

One of those conditions is a written commitment from LNEA leadership that the organization will adhere to Board Policy HA, which governs negotiations between the board and the teachers’ organization.

“… If we create this committee, we do want some things in return, and one of those is to get in writing that you, as LNEA and the negotiating team, will always follow Policy HA, including the time line that’s a contractual obligation,” Kienstra said. “At that point, we also want to be sure that in following HA that any future committee requests come up during negotiation and not in the middle because it seems like then we’re always negotiating.

“We don’t have the time. We don’t have the staff, and our business is to educate kids. It’s not to continuously be in a negotiation, where we want to put our time and energy into the kids and that’s what’s important …”

At the Sept. 7 dialogue session, the LNEA was represented by Scronce, Vice President Gretchen Moser and Lindbergh High School math teachers Scott Fleming and Rich Florez.

Fleming, a past LNEA president, noted that Board Policy HA has been a topic of past negotiations.

“… That’s one of the things our people are concerned about is the way that that policy is crafted at the moment …,” he said.

But Kienstra replied, “Well, I probably wanted to tell you that and make it clear right now — and it keeps coming up — that the Board of Education is committed to HA and it’s not going to change. So there’s no discussion on HA, just like there’s no discussion on spending reserves …”

The board president said the proposal for the salary schedule committee would be placed in writing so LNEA leaders could review it before the board would consider it Tuesday — after the Call went to press.

The formation of the committee would be authorized by Simpson and voted on by the board, according to the proposal submitted to the LNEA leadership.

Among the guidelines proposed are:

• The committee must formulate and provide a mission statement to the Board of Education and district administration.

• The committee must formulate and provide a statement of goals to the board and administration.

• The membership of the committee, which is undetermined at this time, will be set by the school board with recommendations by the LNEA.

“It is important that committee members be unbiased, open-minded and respectful,” the proposal states.

• The committee shall examine comparable districts’ salary schedules, both local and state.

“Comparable defined: Districts with revenue and expenditures per student similar to Lindbergh’s — $11,000 range,” the proposal states.

• Besides salaries, the committee must research employee benefits offered by Lindbergh and include a comparison with benchmark districts.

• The committee must understand and acknowledge all costs associated with proposed salary schedules — benefits, retirement and cost to fund all employee groups.

• The committee must provide a complete report on or before Dec. 5, with consideration for an additional 30-day extension, as the goal is to have the committee complete its work in time for the Dec. 13 school board meeting.