In Monday’s State of the State Address, Governor Bill Lee outlined a proposal for a 4% adjustment to the BEP salary schedule. This will likely mean an actual increase for teachers of 2% or less. In fact, the Associated Press reports that when pressed on the issue, Administration officials admitted that the nature of the BEP means teachers likely won’t receive an actual 4% pay bump.
A day after Gov. Bill Lee boasted he was proposing the largest investment in teacher pay in Tennessee history, top administration officials acknowledged the addition wouldn’t necessarily result in big pay raises for the state’s educators.
Finance and Administration Commissioner Stuart McWhorter told lawmakers Tuesday it was Lee’s “intent” for teachers to receive a 4% raise under the governor’s recently unveiled spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year. However, due to the state’s complicated school funding formula, teachers could get a smaller pay bump.
One way to ensure this “intent” becomes reality is to require the state minimum salary schedule be adjusted by the same 4% that the Governor is proposing and the legislature will hopefully approve. That hasn’t always happened.
Of course, another challenge is that while the amount allotted for salaries is increasing, the BEP formula underestimates teacher need by at least 9000 positions:
In Tennessee, classroom size requirements have forced districts to hire more than 9,000 teachers beyond what the BEP provides to pay for their salaries, according to a statewide analysis presented by the Department of Education in December to the BEP Review Committee.
Lee’s proposal does nothing to address the structural inadequacy of the BEP. This means districts are forced to distribute salary funds in a way that virtually ensures the 4% increase results in a raise that’s half that or less when it comes to teacher paychecks.
Teachers can’t pay their mortgage with an “intended raise.” Actual money is needed to both boost pay and adequately staff schools.
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