State Representative Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, has a focus on education as she looks ahead to her second session in the Missouri Legislature.
Shields plans to introduce legislation during the upcoming session that would raise a teacher’s minimum salary.
“We know that the most important person in the classroom that has the most effect on students is the teacher,” Shields said. “We also know right now we need to continue to attract and maintain the absolute best teachers for those students, and we lose over half of those teachers in the first five years.”
Shields told News-Press NOW that her bill would raise the minimum starting salary to $32,000 over seven years, a figure more in line with surrounding states, she said.
Something else Shields is working on involves a measure that would allow for the sharing of superintendents between school districts.
“Right now we have over 500 school districts in the state of Missouri and consolidation is difficult because so many communities align really themselves with their schools,” she said. “But there’s really no reason why we can’t share superintendents.”
She said her legislation also would include grants for schools who chose to do that, which she said will put more money back into the classroom.
Another piece of legislation Shields plans to file would loosen the requirements for students who qualify for scholarship money from the state’s A+ program.
Reflecting on her first year in the House, Shields said there was a learning curve but she is excited to get back to Jefferson City.
“I’m absolutely looking forward to it,” she said. “I think it will be really fun to actually understand everything that happens on day one.
“It’s a continual learning process as I tell people. It’s a $30 billion dollar business and no one is expected to learn everything in a new job that they need to know to run a $30 billion business in one year. We have hit the ground running, we’ve done a great job all of us freshman legislators, and I think we are all ready to get back and spend some quality time making sure we improve the state of Missouri.”