Members chosen for the MO commission on teachers’ compensation
A Springfield-area business leader will chair a new state-level group created to develop a detailed plan to attract and retain enough highly qualified teachers in Missouri classrooms.
Mark Walker, president and CEO of trucking company Transland, will lead a Blue Ribbon Teacher Recruitment and Retention Commission appointed by the Missouri Board of Education.
The list of the 18 members of the commission was made public on Tuesday as part of the meeting of the Council of State. The final four are expected to be named next month.
On the list are two from southwestern Missouri: Melissa “Misty” Grandel and Kurt Hellweg.
Grandel is a language arts teacher at Fordland High School. She was there 2020 Missouri Teacher of the Year.
Hellweg, of Springfield, is chairman of the board of directors of International Dehydrated Foods, Inc.; American Dehydrated Foods, Inc.; Food Ingredients Technology Company, LLC; and IsoNova Technologies, LLC – all private companies that manufacture and market ingredients for the food and feed industries.
The full list was compiled by a trio of state board members: Mary Schrag, of West Plains: Don Claycomb, of Linn; and Kim Bailey of Raymore. They will also be part of the commission.
“We focused on making sure we had good representation from across the state, from different backgrounds,” Schrag said.
She said there is a mix of rural, suburban and metropolitan areas.
Schrag said the the commission is very crowded with business and industry leaders, by design, but noted that many also have a school background.
“The intention is that the company that benefits from a well-educated society and potential employees in the future helps achieve this,” she said.
The group will soon begin meeting with the goal of making recommendations to the entire state board, as well as Missouri legislators, on how to address teacher recruitment and retention challenges. found in the state.
“When we contacted potential board members, many questions were asked about the climate and culture in our schools and how they impact teacher satisfaction and retention,” Schrag said.
“Commission members understand that resolving these issues is just as important as the issue of compensation, and we look forward to continuing these discussions in the months ahead.”
Members include St. Louis-area Missouri 2021 Teacher of the Year Darrion Cockrell and Kansas City-area Blue Springs School Board member Rhonda Gilstrap.
Jamie Birch, Deputy Director of Policy, will represent Governor Mike Parson’s office. Paul Katnik, Assistant Commissioner of Education, will represent the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
The commission will include four state legislators, who have yet to be named. Other members, largely from the business community, include:
- Amy Estes, Rosebud, is the Regional Manager of Ayusa Global Youth Exchange.
- Kathy Osborn, St. Louis, is President and CEO of the Regional Business Council of St. Louis.
- Ruth Stricklen Pullins, Kansas City, is the director of human resources at University Health.
- Kansas City’s Dred Scott has been dedicated to serving young people throughout his 20+ year career. He is President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City.
- Maxine Clark, Clayton, is the founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop.
- Keith Pritchard, Waynesville, is Chairman of the Board of Pulaski County Security Bank.
- Aaron Decker, Poplar Bluff, is Vice President and Head of Retail Lending at Southern Bank.
- Bob Wollenman, St. Joseph, is the managing partner of Deluxe Truck Stop in St. Joseph.
“This is important work because high-quality teachers are essential to ensuring that our students become the next generation of Missouri’s workforce,” said council president Charlie Shields, of St. Joseph, in a press release.
“We are thrilled to have so many commission members who realize their future employees will be directly impacted by this work, and are eager to collaborate and resolve issues on behalf of Missouri public education.”
In December, DESE released a report showing that of the 71,705 full-time teaching positions in 2020-21, 5% were either vacant or occupied by people who were not fully qualified. .
No academic field in the state has been spared from the shortage. Areas with the greatest shortages included special education, followed by math, science and early childhood.
The average starting salary for Missouri teachers is ranked 50th in the nation. That’s just under $33,000, nearly 20 percent below the national average, according to the National Education Association.
Missouri set its minimum starting salary for teachers at $25,000, a floor that remained in place for years.
Parson announced, as part of the state of the state address, his intention to raise the minimum to $38,000. However, it is unclear how much of the cost would be covered by the state versus local districts.
Claudette Riley is the News-Leader’s educational reporter. Email news tips to [email protected]