NEOSHO, Mo. — Teacher pay has been a hot topic in the Four State region, at the state level, and across the country. It’s how much they deserve to earn and what schools can afford to pay them.

“I’ve had high school students tell me that they thought about being teachers and they’ve changed their mind,” said Jim Cummins, Neosho R-5 Supterindentent.

Dr. Jim Cummins says teacher pay is high on the list of reasons.

“And the teacher prep programs will tell you the number of students coming into their degree programs are down,” Dr. Cummins added.

The Neosho R-5 School Superintendent is working toward double-digit raises for the new school year, which would grow what’s already his single biggest budget category.

“We’ll be somewhere in the $30 million range for wages. Will be another, probably five or six million in benefits. So you’re going to be 35 – 36 million out of a 48 million – $50 million budget.”

But while the Neosho district is changing what it can, school leaders are also calling on the state to help out. Starting with a state minimum teacher salary that hasn’t changed in 17 years.

“$25,000 is the minimum in Missouri.”

They’re developing a resolution calling on Missouri lawmakers to help attract and retain quality teachers in the Show Me State.

“The school board wanted to make it known, I think to the legislators that they understand they’re hearing it from teachers, they’re hearing it from the community about just the difficulty in attracting talent,” he said.

The resolution points out Missouri is among the lowest in the country for teacher salaries – even while many other states are boosting their own teachers.

“And now Oklahoma and Kansas are trying to really Institute things that will make a difference,” Dr. Cummins said. “They’re right here close to those borders. And so yeah, as as the pool gets smaller of candidates, the challenge of being able to attract good ones in a competitive market. comes more of a challenge.”