In a recent article outlining a list of priorities for the next Director of MNPS, Board Member Will Pinkston said:
We also need a top-to-bottom review of our teacher compensation system to understand how we stack up against competing and similarly situated U.S. school systems, such as Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Denver and Louisville.
Here is some information on how the MNPS pay scale compares to pay scales in the cities Pinkston mentions. I used the salary paid to a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and looked at starting salary, salary at year 10, salary at year 20, and the top salary paid on the current schedule.
Here’s what it looks like:
Start 10 20 TOP
MNPS $42,082 $44,536 $54,800 $55,757
Louisville $41,756 $53,759 $69,514 $70,636
Charlotte $37,946 $46,008 $53,954 $58,525
Austin $46,401 $48,837 $55,477 $70,751
Atlanta $44,312 $54,167 $62,075 $66,467
Denver $38,765 $47,136 $53,838*
*Denver has a teacher compensation system known as ProComp and the highest step is 13. Teachers in Denver earn the base pay indicated plus are eligible for incentives and base pay increases based on professional development, advanced degrees, and measures of student outcomes.
Here are a few takeaways from the raw information:
1) Starting pay in MNPS is on par with the cities Pinkston identifies as similar to/competitive with Nashville.
2) Long-term pay increases in MNPS don’t keep pace with those in other, similar districts. Taking Denver as an example, a teacher who received NO ProComp incentives and maintained only a bachelor’s degree would make at Step 13 very close to what an MNPS teacher with similar education makes at Step 20. In all other cities examined, the top step is higher (from $3000 to $15,000) than it is in MNPS.
3) Just three hours north of Nashville in a city with similar demographics and cost of living, a teacher can earn significantly better pay over a career. While a teacher in Louisville starts out making slightly less than a new Nashville teacher, by year 10, the Louisville teacher makes $9,000 more than her Nashville counterpart and by year 20, that difference stretches to $15,000. The lifetime earnings of a teacher in Louisville significantly outpace those of a teacher in Nashville.
4) Nashville’s teacher pay is higher than most of the surrounding districts — making it a competitive choice for teachers seeking to teach in middle Tennessee. However, for Nashville to become a destination for teachers wanting to build a career (or continue one) in urban education, Nashville may need to do more to improve its overall compensation package.
5) This analysis is a starting point — it’s raw data from district websites about base compensation plans. It does not take into account relative cost of living (except as noted in the comparison with Louisville) and other factors that may make teaching in Nashville an attractive proposition.
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