Sumner’s Phillips Announces Retirement

Sumner County Director of Schools Del Phillips announced this week his plans to retire at the end of the upcoming school year.

From the district’s announcement:

Dr. Del R. Phillips, III announced his intention to retire as Sumner County’s Director of Schools, effective June 30, 2023. Sumner County is the 8th largest school system in Tennessee, and Dr. Phillips’ 12-year tenure makes him one of the longest serving directors in district history. Under Dr. Phillips’ leadership, Sumner County emerged as a leader in academic achievement, financial management, school safety, student well-being, as well as strategic planning to meet the current and future growth of Sumner County. Dr. Phillips led Sumner County Schools to expand opportunities for student learning as the district ranks #1 in Tennessee for the number of STEM schools and career and technical education pathways.

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That’s the raise teachers in Sumner County could see in 2020 if a proposal being advanced by Director of Schools Del Phillips secures funding from the Sumner County Commission.

According to Phillips, in a presentation made to the Sumner County School Board last night, the cost of the plan is an estimated $8.8 million. Phillips says he’s been working with the School Board in recent years to boost pay for classified employees and noted that all classified employees in Sumner County Schools now earn a minimum of $10 an hour.

The pay increase is necessary, Phillips argued, because similar systems are already paying teachers more than Sumner. Williamson, Wilson, Robertson, and Rutherford counties were used as reference points.

Here’s how Sumner County pay compares with these systems currently:

First year teacher with a bachelor’s degree

Sumner $36,100

Williamson $40,150

Wilson $40,000

Robertson $39,156

Rutherford $41,144

So, Sumner County has the lowest starting pay among peer districts — and it’s not even close.

Let’s look at veteran teachers.

Teachers with 15 years of experience and a master’s degree

Sumner $49,983

Williamson $57,463

Wilson $51,000

Robertson $51,204

Rutherford $59,842

Here again, Sumner County lags behind peer systems. Veteran teachers with advanced degrees make less in Sumner than in comparable middle Tennessee systems.

The new proposal would boost every step by $4000, ensuring no teacher started in Sumner at less than $40,100. Veteran teachers with advanced degrees would see mid-career salaries in the mid-50s, and those with 20 years or more would see pay in the $60,000+ range.

All of this would bring Sumner County in line with similar districts. Sumner already has one of the best benefit packages in middle Tennessee.

Phillips plans to ask the Sumner County Commission for a funding commitment for this plan at the August 19th meeting.

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