The Budget: A pay raise for all teachers and staff

The Board of Education approved the 2014-15 budget request on April 8. It calls for a $32.5 million increase over last year. That increase includes $17.3 million in required spending like inflation and payouts to charter schools. The rest is made up of strategic priorities to improve instruction in our classrooms. 

  • Budget Priority: Teacher and Staff Pay Raises and Other Compensation
  • Investment: $8 million

Under the 2014-15 budget request, all Metro teachers and staff would receive a two percent pay raise. Most years, the Governor calls for a statewide teacher pay raise that the state helps fund. His proposed budget does not include a statewide raise this year, but Metro Schools wants to recruit and retain the best.

By funding a teacher and staff raise locally, we reward the hard working educators who are helping Nashville students make real, measurable progress. We also keep pace with other districts and other states and stay competitive in teacher pay.

If we want a great teacher in every Metro classroom, we have to be able to attract teachers from all over the country and develop and retain them once they get here. More than half our early career teachers whose students make significant gains year after year tell us they do not plan to stay at Metro Schools for their entire careers.

There aren’t many teachers who teach for the money, but competitive pay is still crucial to effective teacher recruitment and retention.

A two percent raise for all 6,000 teachers would cost around $7.3 million, while the same raise for support staff is $2 million.

Other cost increases in compensation aren’t a choice. They are required. Those include increases in pension and retiree insurance. But thanks to savings from our retirement incentive program ($3.4 million) and FICA contributions ($1.6 million), those costs are offset somewhat.

While we cannot be certain about any pay raises until the Metro Council approves a final budget amount in June, we believe a pay raise for all employees rewards the hard work and improvements happening in our schools and will keep our district on track to attract and retain the very best teachers and staff.

Read More in the Budget Series:
Part 1 – Prekindergarten
Part 2 – Teacher and Staff Pay Raises
Part 3 – Technology and Training
Part 4 – Literacy
Part 5 – World Class Music Education for Every Student

Metro Schools officials have a budget hearing with the Metro Council scheduled for June 4 at 4:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers. Wear blue to show your support for Metro Schools.

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Support for higher teacher pay spreads across Tennessee

Hats off to the Achievement School District for announcing last month a plan to offer teacher salaries of $62,500 – and all the way up to $90,000 – in its Memphis schools. This is exactly the right direction for teacher pay to take in Tennessee: upward.

The citizens of Nashville showed their support for higher teacher pay last year when Mayor Karl Dean and the Metro Council worked to approve the Metro Schools operating budget, which included raising starting teacher pay to $40,000.

Because of that important step, we are a competitive player in the nationwide search for the best teachers. We saw an immediate increase in interest from our teacher candidates.

It’s wonderful to see that support for teachers spread to the other side of the state, and to have it supported by the Tennessee Department of Education.

We hope that commitment continues and carries over into statewide education policy, allowing all of us to attract the very best teachers out there.

Rumor Control: Metro Says Student Can’t Slack Off With New Grading Policy – NewsChannel5.com

This piece from Aundrea Cline-Thomas at News Channel 5 sums up the new middle school grading policy pretty well.

Good grades used to be easier to come by.

“In the past maybe some of our grading practices inadvertently kind of made some grades a little bit invalid,” DuPont Hadley Middle School teacher Jennie Presson explained.

Assignments for extra credit would inflate the grades and could be a crutch especially for struggling students.

“Under the new policy students grades will be a really really accurate reflection of their level of understanding,” Presson added.

“It is a culture shift and we know it’s going to take some time,” Dr. Lora Hall, Associate Superintendent of Middle Schools said.

Full story:
Metro Says Student Can’t Slack Off With New Grading Policy – NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports.

The final budget is approved and in place. What’s in it?

Wednesday night, the Board of Education voted on a final 2012-13 Operating Budget for Metro Schools.

The Board previously approved a budget, which was submitted to the Metro Council. The Council voted to increase funding for Metro Schools, but provided $3.5 million less in operating funds than the Board of Education proposed.

After hours of consideration, deliberation, and a line-by-line review of the budget, an amended version was agreed upon. Whenever possible, reductions were kept away from classrooms and instruction.

Many people are asking what is in the budget and what didn’t make it. Here is a brief rundown.

WHAT’S IN THE BUDGET

Starting Teacher Pay Increase – All teachers in the first five years of their careers with Metro Schools now have a base pay of $40,000. This was one of the cornerstones of the budget proposal and has already generated a lot of excitement among our teachers and our new recruits.

Raise for All Teachers –All teachers will receive a raise of 2% – at minimum – in addition to any step increases they are due.

Support Employee Raise – Support employees will receive a 2% cost of living raise, their first since 2007. This is in addition to step increases.

New Teachers – The district planned to hire 90 additional teachers this year to meet growing enrollment. Those positions remain in the final budget. The district did not reduce any teaching positions.

WHAT WAS REDUCED

Compressing the Top End of Teacher Pay Scale – The earlier budget proposal called for a compression of the teacher salary schedule, so teachers would reach the top level of pay in 15 years. There just wasn’t enough money to make this happen this budget cycle, but we hope to take another look at it for next year.

Some Vacant Positions – The district will not fill some vacant positions and will shift some responsibilities among other employees.

Various Items in Several Departments – Supplies, printing, travel, overtime and other items were reduced to reach the final number. While no one wanted to ‘nickel and dime’ the budget, all reductions were considered, no matter how small.

In the end this is a terrific budget that will have a major impact on our students and employees. Teachers and support staff will earn more. We are in a better position to recruit the best teachers from across the country. And we still have top quality educators in every school.

We are a very fortunate urban school district. While many cities are forced to cut school budgets dramatically, Mayor Dean, the Metro Council and the people of Nashville have provided the funding the district needs to continue our forward momentum. We are a school district on the rise.

See the budget in its entirety on our 2012-13 Budget page.

 See the new teacher, support employee, & administrative salary schedules.

MNEA supports Metro budget proposal & higher pay for new teachers

Joining a growing list of supporters, the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association has pledged its support of Mayor Karl Dean’s 2013 budget proposal. Writing about the endorsement, MNEA President and middle school teacher Stephen Henry says:

While most of the buzz has centered on the $40,000 starting salary, the new compensation plan actually seeks to compress the total teacher salary schedule by reducing the number of steps, which is a significant modification and a good thing for teachers. Paying teachers well is a good way to attract and retain the best professionals to serve the children of Nashville.

Read the full MNEA letter of support.

Show your support for the budget proposal.

Link

Joining Peabody’s Camilla Benbow is Candice McQueen of Lipscomb University. In today’s copy of The Tennessean, Dr. McQueen says:

Unfortunately, some of the toughest teaching challenges in Nashville are also among the lowest-paid. Teachers are already candidates for burnout and turnover based on the work they do, but when they see how their work is valued by our city vis-á-vis other options, it is doubly discouraging. An excellent teacher willing to take on any challenge in Nashville has plenty of higher-paying opportunities in other school systems.

As dean of Lipscomb University’s College of Education, I have been closely following the proposal to raise teachers’ starting salaries in Metro Schools. Many of our graduates want to teach in Metro Nashville schools after graduation, because they see the potential for impacting students’ lives and our community. But in return for their willingness to do this hard and meaningful work that ultimately affects quality of life in our city, they have to accept thousands of dollars less than they can earn in another city.

Read the entire article here.

Peabody Education Dean supports our plan for raising teacher pay

The Dean of Education at America’s number one school for teachers has given a whole-hearted endorsement of the Metro Schools plan to raise starting teacher pay.

In an open letter to Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register, Dean Camilla Benbow of Peabody College at Vanderbilt University said she supports Metro Schools increasing the starting pay for teachers. The proposed salary schedule has starting teachers making $40,000, existing teachers receiving raises ranging from 1.9% to 8.2%, and all teachers reaching the top levels of pay in just 15 years rather than 25. This endorsement joins one from the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA).

You can read the full letter below, or click the link at the bottom of this post to see the letter itself.

If you’d like to join Dean Benbow in supporting the starting teacher pay increase, you can show your support by writing or calling the Metro Council and by coming to Council’s meeting on Tuesday, June 5.

Dear Dr. Register,

I am writing you in support of the MNPS effort to increase the starting salary of Nashville Public School teachers.

While teachers unions, policy-makers and the public can find much to disagree on when it comes to how to pay teachers, there’s little disagreement when it comes to the simple matter of a threshold, starting salary. A higher starting salary attracts more candidates and allows a district to be more selective in its hiring practices. This translates to more effective teachers for Nashville’s students. As you know, Peabody College prepares teachers drawn from a national pool of applicants. These students enter Vanderbilt with SAT scores far higher than what is typical  among schools of education nationwide. Based on their potential, it is certainly in Nashville’s interest to encourage these prospective teachers to remain here to begin their teaching careers. But at less than $35,000, the current MNPS starting salary for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree is lower than the national average (approximately $37,500 in 2009-10 dollars), and well below the starting salaries in many of the urban areas from which our students come. We would love for more of our students to stay in Nashville and contribute to education in our community.

Polling data that Vanderbilt collected last fall suggest that the public would also be supportive of high starting salaries. Of 1,423 Tennesseans polled, 71 percent said that public school teachers in Tennessee were underpaid. Respondents ranked education as the No. 2 priority for state government. Perhaps now is the opportune time to initiate a salary increase.

Finally, I would add that not only would a higher starting salary help with teacher recruitment, it is also likely to help with retention. With nearly half of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years, a high starting salary, or increases in salary for early career teachers, may incentivize some to stay. Similarly, shortening the amount of time required for teachers to reach the top of the salary scale will enable MNPS to retain more of its experienced teacher workforce.

In short, we support MNPS’s proposal to increase teacher salaries. A favorable outcome is in the interest of Nashville’s children.

Sincerely,

Camilla Benbow
Patricia and Rodes Dean of Education and Human Development

See the Letter of Support from Peabody Dean Camilla Benbow