State school board approves new teacher pay schedule

State school board approves new teacher pay schedule (Image 1)

State education leaders bucked the wishes of teachers and approved a new pay schedule Friday afternoon.

The Tennessee Board of Education approved the proposed state minimum salary schedule by a final vote of 6-3.

Wearing red in a show of solidarity, teachers and supporters packed into the small meeting room in north Nashville to hear the vote and the preceding presentation.

The new salary schedule increases base pay, but reduces incremental pay steps. It also eliminates pay increases for training higher than a Master's degree.

“I can see that over a lifetime I won't make as much money as I was going to make yesterday that I'm going to make tomorrow. I can see I have three degrees and the state is going to say, 'Oh, well,'” said Torian Hodges-Finch, a Rutherford County teacher.

Many teachers see the new schedule as a pay cut and a devaluation of higher education, despite words to the contrary from Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman and board members.

“Anyone who says this pay system does this or does that, it's just not accurate,” Huffman said. “Local districts are going to develop their own systems to determine how this gets implemented.”

“We would anticipate that many of the schedules out there will continue to recognize experience through 20 years and will continue to recognize advanced degrees the way they are now,” added State Board Chairman Fielding Rolston.

Robertson County Teacher Larry Proffitt told Nashville's News 2 that anticipation is not a guarantee.

“A lot of the vocabulary the commissioner used is 'what we expect' and 'what we think,'” he said. “In my classroom, students have to have a little more defined expectations. They can't just get by on words like that. You have to have a plan of action.”

Huffman stressed that the new schedule is only the minimum, allowing districts more flexibility to compensate teachers in a way that best suits individual district needs.

In addition to the minimum salary schedule, which is based solely on experience and degrees, each school district must also develop a differentiated pay plan to staff hard to staff subjects and schools and to hire and retain highly qualified teachers.

The salary schedule is effective for the 2013-14 school year. Districts have one year to implement a differentiated pay plan for the 2014-15 school year.

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