A decision by the State Board of Education to give school districts more power to determine teacher pay has left many local educators wondering what to expect when it comes to their paycheck.
The decision, reached June 21, has resulted in widespread speculation about what will happen to the local pay scale. Director of Schools Bobby Cox says nothing will change for the upcoming school year and there will be no pay decreases at all.
“What they are earning now cannot be reduced by law,” said Cox. “This will be an opportunity for teachers to earn extra money, but we have to work within our budget.”
Cox said this is a topic that’s sure to dominate School Board discussions for the coming year. He said he took part in a 90-minute webinar on teacher pay on Monday, along with a number of other educational leaders.
“Everyone in the state is in the same boat as we are,” said Cox.
Currently the minimum salary in Warren County for a beginning teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $34,177. After 10 years, the minimum salary is $39,928.
Local salaries increase as teachers earn advanced degrees. Cox said the pay scales for earning advanced degrees will stay in place.
A beginning teacher in Warren County with a master’s degree earns $37,335. After 10 years, that increases to $43,586.
For an EdS, the beginning pay is $40,093. After 10 years with an EdS, the pay is $47,344.
Cox said he wants to continue to reward teachers who further their education. He said Warren County won’t be greatly affected by the recent State Board of Education decision because we already pay above the state minimum in every educational tier.
“What we want to do here is something that’s in the best interest of the teachers,” said Cox, who indicated the local plan could include some factors that tie pay to professional development, classroom evaluations, and student test scores.
He said the school system is dedicated to paying its employees as much as possible and points to an $800 bonus all school employees will receive in November as an example.
According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s website, 134 of 137 Tennessee school districts pay above the state minimum. If a district is already above the minimum, the new state regulations will have lesser impact on pay since school districts are free to pay more, just not less.