Last year we spent $674 million educating more than 79,000 students. Every year that number goes up – and not necessarily because we want it to. Inflation hits individuals and organizations alike. We have to pay more for many of the same services we receive year to year.
For 2012-13, the Board of Education has approved a budget increase of more than $48 million over the 2011-12 budget.
So where would it all go? Let’s take a look.
Earlier we saw how people are the biggest expense in Metro Schools, and how inflation, raises, and needed new hires account for a huge majority of the requested budget increase. But that’s not all of it. We also have some new ideas that will continue the strides we’re making. And as usual, it starts with teachers.
No one will argue over the importance of hiring the very best teachers we can find. But that’s actually a lot harder than you think.
Working in an urban school district is not easy. As Director of Schools, Dr. Jesse Register, has said so many times, “We’ll never be the easiest place to work, but we can be the best.” Attracting great teachers to an urban district is tough when a suburban rural district pays more. Currently Metro Schools is ranked 30th in the state in starting teacher pay.
Let that sink in. We are the 2nd largest district in the state, but 29 districts pay teachers more than we do. That has to change.
And we don’t just compete with Tennessee districts for the best teachers; we compete with cities from across the region. Teacher recruiters from Houston have visited Nashville three times this year offering new teachers $44,000 a year.
Under the 2012-13 budget, teachers would start out making $40,000 annually, placing us 3rd in the state and positioning us to hire more of the strongest teachers who have their pick of jobs. That also means current teachers with up to five years’ experience who make less than $40,000 will get bumped up to that level. We’re also proposing changes to teacher pay at the top end, allowing them to reach the top level after just 15 years, not 25.
These are the kind of dramatic steps that will draw great teachers and college graduates to Metro Nashville Public Schools. Our hiring recruiters are already hearing positive buzz building around our district just at the very mention of a $40,000 starting salary. It must be done if we are to be considered a top destination for the best of the best.
What’s the price tag on this huge step in the right direction? Just under $6 million, bringing us to a total of $45.3 million in additional costs for 2012-13.