Pay Boost Coming for Sumner Schools

Teachers, staff to see raises based on School Board’s budget

While the State of Tennessee continues to move slowly when it comes to investment in teacher compensation, local districts are stepping up.

Sumner County is the latest to announce planned pay raises for its teachers and staff.

Sumner County Schools approved an additional $28,950,000 in its budget to increase pay for all of its employees, according to an email sent to parents and the community. The school board has approved the following raises:

– Increasing classified staff pay to a minimum of $16 per hour.

– Increasing new teacher pay to $47,800, an average raise amount of $3,023 for experienced teachers.

The School Board passed the proposal by a 9-1 vote, with the lone dissenting vote noting he hoped to move starting pay up to $50,000 and ask the County Commission for additional funds for raises.

The proposal will now go through the budget approval process at the Sumner County Commission.

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Memphis-Shelby County Announces it Will Not Arm Teachers

District rejects legislative plan to put more guns in schools

Officials in Memphis have announced that their school system will not allow teachers to carry guns at school, despite a legislative decision that would allow districts to permit teachers who receive certain training to carry firearms on school grounds.

“We will not allow teachers to carry guns in our schools,” said Superintendent Marie N. Feagins, adding that the law is “controversial.”

Shelby County Sheriff Floyd Bonner said “schools are for learning.”

“… And emergency situations should be handled by trained officers,” Bonner said. 

“And the district has made it a priority to keep them that way through security upgrades and updates,” MPD Interim Chief C.J. Davis continued.

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Will Tennessee Do the Right Thing?

Can policymakers summon the will to make school meals free for all kids?

State Rep. John Ray Clemmons is frustrated. Angry, even.

He’s been trying for years to get his fellow lawmakers to fund a plan to make school meals free for all kids.

This year, a Republican lawmaker joined the fight – sponsoring a bill similar to one Clemmons has carried in the past. Still, the bill was met with stiff resistance by legislators.

The national trend is toward schools providing meals for free for all kids.

The Tennessee trend is in favor of hundreds of millions of public dollars to fund a stadium for a private business owner and $1.6 billion for a corporate tax break.

Rather than fund school lunches, lawmakers and Gov. Lee seek annually to find new schemes that would use taxpayer money to fund unaccountable private schools.

For the past decade, the state has run budget surpluses in the range of $1-3 billion.

Rather than fund school lunches or boost teacher pay or invest in Medicaid expansion, or end the grocery tax, lawmakers have found a dizzying array of ways to reduce revenue by lowering or eliminating taxes paid by the wealthy or corporations.

The problem is so acute that Tennessee is in real danger of running a significant budget deficit in the 2025 fiscal year.

If Bill Lee ran his HVAC business this way, they’d be filing for bankruptcy.

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Same Old Song

TNReady scores NOT ready for final grades

Well, here we go again.

The TNReady scores that are supposed to factor into a student’s final grades are NOT ready.

Districts are reporting that the testing vendor AGAIN missed the window for inclusion in final grades.

Districts have the option of waiting OR just not including them.

This happens. Every. Year.

What IS all this testing for, anyway? And if the scores aren’t back in time to be useful to districts in terms of grades, well, what’s the point?

I mean, sure, there’s the chance to hold kids back in third grade – a policy destined for failure.

The state insists on the tests. The state insists that the tests count – for grades and for retention decisions – and the state’s selected vendor consistently fails to meet agreed deadlines.

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A Solid F

Tennessee continues to fail when it comes to school funding

In spite of a new school funding formula AND Gov. Bill Lee’s promise to make Tennessee one of the top places to teach in America, the state continues to lag near the bottom in the nation in both per pupil spending AND teacher salary.

A new report reveals that average teacher pay in the state ranks Tennessee 44th in the nation – and among the lowest in the Southeast. Alabama, Kentucky, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia all pay their teachers more than Tennessee does.

National Education Association report on school funding

When it comes to per pupil spending, Tennessee is also in familiar territory: Near the bottom.

National Education Association report on school funding

This is just like . . . every other year.

F

Of course, Lee and his allies are fond of claiming everything is fine – that they’re doing a great job of funding schools. A few years back, I examined that claim up close and that takedown still applies:

Here’s some perspective from that 2021 article:

So, the TN House GOP is all excited about spending $616 million plus over TEN years, while the state is sitting on a $3.1 billion surplus this year alone! That means we could spend $616 million in teacher salaries THIS YEAR and still have more than $2.4 billion LEFT to spend. Read that again. Republicans are bragging about taking an entire decade to allocate in total what is available THIS year and could be funded while still leaving $2.4 billion for other priorities.

When it comes to school funding, Tennessee stands at a solid “F” and our policymakers seem to be just fine with that.

The Community Steps Up

Exposes massive state policy failure

In Wilson County, people are stepping up to cancel school lunch debt.

Sure, school lunch debt represents a massive policy failure. But at least this community is coming together to say kids shouldn’t leave school with debt for meals.

The action by the Wilson County community also highlights that the state can easily afford to cancel all $50 million in school lunch debt currently on the books.

Wilson County residents raised enough money – around $6000 – to cancel the lunch debt for all graduating seniors. Still, the district has some $30,000 in school lunch debt remaining.

Lawmakers have repeatedly rejected the idea of the state paying for free school meals (breakfast and lunch) for all kids. The projected cost: $714 million a year.

Half a billion for the Titans stadium? No problem!

Sitting on $700 million in TANF? Got it!

Feeding ALL kids at school every day? Nope!

That’s the policy position of Tennessee.

crop man getting dollars from wallet
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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Nobody wants Bill Lee’s school “safety” plan

Another school district is making clear it’s not interested in Gov. Bill Lee’s school safety plan of allowing unidentified teachers with certain training to carry guns while on duty at school.

From the Instagram feed of State House candidate Allie Phillips

School systems want resources for their teachers, but Lee and his allies weren’t having that.

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TN FAFSA Deadline – May 15

Finally File the FAFSA

Tennessee deadline for FAFSA filing is May 15th

It’s time.

To file the FAFSA.

If you’re going to a public college or university in Tennessee in the fall, the time to file your FAFSA is now.

“We don’t want our student applicants passing up significant financial benefits,” said Dr. Michael Licari, Austin Peay State University president. “We see such great potential within the young adults of Tennessee, and failure to submit their FAFSA before the deadline should not be the hurdle that prevents them from achieving their educational dreams.”

The deadline is May 15th.

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Pay Bump on the Way in Memphis

Minimum salary moved to $50K, all teachers will see pay increase

Districts across Tennessee are making moves to increase teacher compensation in the face of a growing shortage of applicants and long lists of open positions.

Chalkbeat reports that Memphis-Shelby County will move starting teacher pay to a minimum of $50,000 a year and bump pay for all teachers – raises that could amount to $4000 or more for most teachers.

Memphis-Shelby County Schools is raising its minimum teacher salary to $50,811 under a new agreement with its two teachers unions, delivering on their salary goals despite a $150 million budget shortfall next year.

Teachers, administrators, and board members, meanwhile, cheered the agreement, which raises the district’s starting salary by 8% for teachers with undergraduate degrees and ensures that veteran teachers receive raises once they have hit the top of the district’s 19-step salary scale.

The move comes even as lawmakers rejected providing additional state funds to assist school districts in raising teacher pay.

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Photo by John Guccione www.advergroup.com on Pexels.com

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A Farewell to Arms

More districts saying they won’t be arming teachers

Despite Gov. Lee’s quick signing of legislation that takes effect immediately and allows teachers to be armed at school with certain training, districts across the state are make clear this was not the policy change they were looking for.

Here’s more from Anderson County:

Rev. Brandon Berg, pastor of Norris and Sinking Springs United Methodist Churches, issued a statement by way of the Southern Christian Coalition.

“As a father of 3 children in Anderson County Schools I am enormously glad tremendously relieved that Anderson County schools and Dr. Parrott have joined so many voices and so many school systems and directors of schools across the state of Tennessee in standing up against arming teachers in our schools,” said Berg.

exterior of school building in daytime
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