Warren County teachers will receive a raise for the upcoming school year after a 28-cent property tax increase was passed by the Warren County Commission on Monday.
With the tax increase, $1.85 million for Warren County government will be divided between Warren County Schools and the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, with 13.5 cents going to the school system to cover a $1,000 salary increase for teachers and funds for computer upgrades.
“We were already planning on trying to do a $1,000 increase locally so we’re still going to do that $1,000 increase for all employees, plus the county’s 13.5 cents which will provide another $1,000 so teachers are going to get a $2,000 increase from what they made last year,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox.
For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the average salary for Warren County teachers was $45,674, while the average statewide pay for educators was $50,958.
Warren County teachers had a 4.2 percent salary increase between the 2014-15 and 2017-18 school years based on a study done by the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury.
According to the Tennessee Education Association, Warren County ranked 63 out of the 142 school districts in Tennessee from highest to lowest salary amounts for teachers with bachelor degrees. That was before the pay raise. The mean of all the school districts combined was $44,696.
There is no health insurance increase this year, Cox noted, so teachers will see more of their raises than normal since an increase in insurance premiums would offset the additional income.
“I hope this will help us recruit more teachers into our school system,” says Cox. “If we can be more competitive with salaries of counties around us, which our starting salary already is, and if we can get a little more competitive with our benefits, then I think that helps us recruit teachers into Warren County. It definitely helps.”
The higher pay rate in Putnam and Rutherford counties, as well as the better health packages offered, can hurt Warren County finding teachers, Cox noted.
The starting Warren County teacher salary for zero years of experience is $38,000. Cox and the School Board are looking to raise that to possibly $39,000 or $40,000.
Each teacher will receive a total $2,000 increase to their previous year’s salary starting at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.
“Everything I have heard from the staff has been very positive,” says Cox. “They are thankful to get the increase and have it go into the salary schedule, meaning it will be recurring and not just a one-time bonus.”
The property tax increase will also be used to update the computers being used throughout the Warren County School System. The $264,000 will provide a recurring financial opportunity to help with the long-term replacement of outdated computers.
“These upgrades are tremendous,” says Cox. “We have around 3,250 computers that are still running on Windows 7, which has been outdated for quite a while. These computers were bought five or more years ago with a one-time financial loan from the governor.”
The school system will now be able to get involved in a four-year lease program by negotiating with Trinity3 Technology to replace the computers and pay for those over time. The hope is to renew the lease after the four years and get into a process of cycling out computers on a more regular basis.
“I think what we need to be looking at is being progressive and making sure our students have the best resources available,” said Cox. “We’ve really worked hard to improve the use of technology in our schools. This will not only help instruction on a daily basis, but hopefully, help us get our students to be successful in online testing in the future.”