Citing an inability to attract new teachers, Williamson County Director of Schools Mike Looney recently asked his School Board for more than $12 million to improve teacher pay for early career teachers.
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“Every single day — and it happened this week again — we offer a teacher with no experience a job, and they turn us down because they can go to a neighboring district and make 4 to 5 thousand dollars more,” WCS Superintendent Mike Looney said at Wednesday night’s Board of Education work session. “We compete very well with experienced teachers in compensation, but we simply do not compete with less-experienced teachers.”
Looney is asking the board to approve a proposed increase in teacher compensation for new hires through those with 10 years of experience. Current salary for a new teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $37,500, and it’s $39,500 for one with a master’s. The proposed increase would go to $40,150 and $43,975 respectively. The increase for a teacher in the system for 10 years would go from $43,776 to $47,519 for a teacher with a bachelor’s and from $46,909 to $52,046 for one with a master’s.
The move comes as Williamson County notes starting teachers in Rutherford and Davidson County earn more money while the cost of living in Williamson is relatively high.
At the same time, Nashville has been struggling to attract and retain teachers due to low compensation relative to similar metropolitan areas.
Should Williamson County approve the recommended increase, it may become even more difficult for Nashville to attract new teachers.
All of this in a state with an unbelievably high number of inexperienced teachers in classrooms.
The bottom line: It’s about money. Period. Teachers can’t pay their mortgages with “love for students” or an “intrinsically rewarding” job. It’s not like the bank takes “hugs from my kids” as payment for your car note.
Getting serious about teacher compensation is critical. If the wealthiest county in Tennessee is struggling to find new teachers and the “It City” can’t pay a living wage to teachers, Tennessee is in trouble.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport