OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- According to the National Education Association, the average teacher salary in Missouri for the 2018-2019 school year was $50,064. That's just about $12,000 lower than the national average of $61,730.
That puts Missouri in 44th place across the 50 states.
It's something Governor Mike Parson isn't happy about.
"It's a sad day for all of us in this room, including myself as Governor, including you as administrators," Parson told a conference of superintendents and school administrators at the Margaritaville Lake Resort in Osage Beach Monday. "That is not what we want to be known for in this state."
Parson said the state is on the right track when it comes to the education of students, but says teacher pay is not competitive enough to bring teachers to or keep teachers in the state.
It's a problem Warsaw R-IX School District Superintendent Shawn Poyser says he knows knows all too well.
"It's very difficult. What you have to try to do is, is there a niche? Is there something you can attract them with, a culture, or maybe a four-day week, or whatever it may be, and then support them while you have them and hope they stay," Poyser said.
Parson is asking administrators to come up with a plan that is feasible in the next three to five years that will increase teacher pay across the state.
"I want you to get to 30 [th place]. That's what I'm asking you today to do. That you work and tell me how you can get that done because they are the future," Parson said. "They are the future of this state, is those teachers, and they're just as much a part of workforce development as anyone else is. We've got to have them, but I need your help to make sure that happens."
But, Poyser said there is a very specific thing that needs to happen in this plan for teacher salaries to increase.
He said there has to be a specific line item in the budget for schools only for teacher salaries because shrinking school budgets make it harder for schools every year.
"If you don't increase the pie, if you will, it gets siphoned off for other things, and other things suffer," Poyser said. "We've seen that in the course of time. Transportation funding's been cut."
Parson says he has faith in the school administrators to find the plan to make it happen.
"We've got to figure out a way to be better," Parson said. "I think the ladies and gentlemen who are here today, if anybody can figure it out, they can figure it out."