By Robert Gowan, public school parent & advocate
Mayor Dean has proposed a 53-cent property tax increase for Metro-Nashville taxpayers. The proposed increase would raise about $100 million and $46 million of the increase will go to Metro Schools – a significant portion of the Metro Schools money will go to raise starting teacher salaries by $5,000. Offering a starting salary of $40,000 per year will make Metro very competitive when it comes to recruiting and retaining high quality, effective teachers.
There has been a lot of talk in Tennessee during the last several years about the need for a high quality, effective teacher in every classroom. There has not been much talk about paying those high quality, effective teachers what they are worth. The Metro School Board and Dr. Jesse Register’s proposal to raise starting teacher pay is a huge step toward recognizing the value of high quality, effective teachers.
And we really don’t have a choice except to be more competitive in recruiting and retaining new teachers. After changes to state law during the last three years, I would argue that Tennessee demands more of its public school teachers than any other state. We will have to pay more to keep the high quality, effective teachers we have and to recruit new teachers.
There are several other very important things in Mayor Dean’s proposed budget (funds to retain 50 police officers currently being paid by a federal grant, money to add two positions to the District Attorney’s Office to handle domestic violence cases), but the proposed investment in salaries for Metro’s teachers is a game changer that should be a model for every other school system in the state.
There has not been a property tax increase in Nashville for seven years. Even with this increase Metro’s property tax rate would be the lowest of the four largest cities in Tennessee.
I just ran the calculation on how much 53 cents will cost me. The property tax increase will cost half of what I spent on iTunes last month. The increase is about one-third of what I pay every month for cellphone service. I’m more than willing to pay that to ensure that Metro Schools can continue to recruit and retain high quality, effective teachers for my kids.
This property tax is overdue and it’s necessary if we really want to improve public education in Nashville. The Metro Council should approve the Mayor’s proposed budget as soon as possible.
Please encourage the Metro Council to approve Mayor Dean’s proposed budget. Voting for a tax increase is never easy and our council members need to hear from as many people as possible who want to make this investment in our public schools.