In the wake of Governor Bill Lee’s voucher legislation that is poised to cost hundreds of millions of dollars and drain resources from public schools, the Fayetteville City School Board passed a resolution calling on the General Assembly to make a commitment to funding teacher salaries.
The Elk Valley Times has more:
The Fayetteville City School Board has adopted a resolution urging legislators to increase public school teachers’ pay by the same amount invested in Education Savings Accounts established through legislation passed by the General Assembly this past session.
The Board is asking school districts across the state to join in the effort. The resolution notes that current BEP funding for schools does not adequately fund teacher pay.
“ … Local school boards recognize that funding for teacher salaries under the Basic Education Program (BEP) under current law is insufficient,” the resolution continues. “ … Districts are funded based on a district-wide student-teacher ratio, rather than the actual number a district is required to employ to meet school-level ratio requirements … The teacher salary used for BEP funding does not represent the actual average teacher salary statewide.
While vouchers certainly impact school funding, it’s also worth noting here that Governor Lee made a significant investment in charter schools this year as well, doubling funds for charter facilities while offering teachers only a 2.5% increase in BEP salary funds.
Estimates indicate that funding the BEP salary component — funds given to districts for teacher pay — at an amount approaching the actual cost of hiring a teacher would mean spending in the range of $300-$500 million.
It’s not clear if Governor Lee or anyone in the legislature has a desire to actually improve teacher pay at a level that will make a real difference. Or, if anyone there even plans on undoing Governor Haslam’s mistake of freezing BEP 2.0.
It will be interesting to see how lawmakers respond if additional districts join Fayetteville in pushing for adequate pay for teachers. Will the same lawmakers who were so focused on ensuring vouchers didn’t “hurt” their districts also support providing their districts with the needed funds to compensate teachers?
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport