LSR7+Insider Article

Shortchanging Teachers = Fiscal Irresponsibility

How long has it been since you've walked into a classroom in your child's school or the school closest to your neighborhood? While many parents and taxpayers aren't available to be in schools during the school day, if you were to take a quick walkthrough or talk with teachers and staff, you would more than likely hear about their countless responsibilities on a daily basis.

Class sizes hovering around 28-30+ students in upper elementary - high school classes, and 25+ students in K-2 rooms district-wide. (See the chart with breakdown of class sizes from the beginning of the school year).

One thing is for sure, teachers work hard. Extremely hard. The staff that keep our schools running, the teachers that plan and execute lessons while trying to meet the needs of their varying ability students, take papers home to grade, attend inservices and after school meetings, and then are responsible for 12-15 hours of unpaid supervision on top of it all ... their plates are OVERFLOWING.

If we were to put a monetary value on the amount of work and time that teachers invest each and every day, it would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. But, let's get real. That isn't happening. In fact, many teachers in the Lee's Summit R-7 School District are making less money as of January 1, 2020, than they were when they started the school year. Why? Because LSR7 contracts their health benefits through CBIZ (which, aren't great, by the way), and their premiums increased January 1. In addition, teachers have not moved up steps on the pay schedule, which forces many of them to take on additional jobs to make ends meet.

However, there is ONE group of individuals in the school district who got hefty raises in December 2019; thus unaffected from the insurance premium increase. A group of individuals who signed a non-disclosure agreement to not discuss their raises (and backpay). Stipends and raises valued at over $200,000! Through sunshined documents, it was found that LSR7 paid out over $200,000 to a group of elementary school principals as well as employees of Stansberry Leadership Center (SLC). $146,675 was paid out (back pay to July 1, 2019) to 12 elementary school principals. Nine administrators at SLC were paid stipends (and leveling of pay increases) in total of $60,000 for "extra work" they are doing. Teachers are asked to do "extra" work all of the time for no compensation.

What is alarming is the daily rate of pay compared to that of our teachers' rates. The ones that are in the trenches, spending hands-on time with the students; the ones who are asked to fill classrooms unable to find substitutes for FREE, and on the off chance the teacher substituting does get paid, the teacher earns a whopping $13.34/hour. Yes, you read that right. $13.34 an HOUR. One of the administrators that received a hefty pay raise now earns at an hourly rate of $76.86/hour (or $615/daily rate).

One last note. We have exceptional teachers and staff members in LSR7. Exceptional. Take notice, though. You will begin to see veteran teachers and staff members leave. Maybe even retire early. Over the last few school years, our staff and teachers who have dedicated their entire lives to our community are making less money than their counterparts hired into the district. Years of service are no longer seen as loyalty; teachers and staff hired in from outside districts are given all of their years of experience on the pay scale.

Until the district begins to value the teachers and staff members by paying them well and taking good care of them through making sure what is being asked of them is fair and equitable monetarily, I can't see how taxpayers could vote toward giving the decision-makers free reign of any more taxpayer monies. When is enough enough? When will the teachers, staff, and students be the driving force behind how money is spent? Fiscal responsibility should be the top priority of LSR7 right now, and these bonuses and raises for "some" and not for "all" doesn't feel right to me.

PDF Download of documents received through Sunshine request.