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The Governor’s proposed teacher pay plan includes increasing the starting salary for teachers from $36,000.00 to $40,000.00, but what does this really mean? What is this in terms of real dollars? Will it translate into a pay increase?
The Governor is referring to the Tennessee Department of Education’s State Salary Schedule for Licensed Instructional Personnel. The Tennessee Department of Education’s State Salary Schedule for Licensed Instructional Personnel defines the minimum salary a Tennessee teacher shall be paid based upon their degree and years of experience. Below is the 2020–2021 Tennessee State Salary Schedule for teachers.
Below is a State Salary Schedule for Licensed Instructional Personnel based on a starting teacher salary of $40,000 per the Governor’s pay plan.
1. Figures represent minimum salary requirements. Local education agencies (LEAs) may provide additional compensation increases to the base salary for factors including aiding in staffing hard to staff subject areas and schools and in hiring and retaining highly effective teachers [T.C.A. § 49-3-306(h)]. In addition, LEAs may provide additional increases for years of experience and educational attainment.
2. The adoption of the state salary schedule shall not result in a reduction of pay by an LEA for any teacher employed by the LEA at the time of the schedule’s adoption [T.C.A. § 49-3-306(a)(1)]. Therefore, the minimum salary required for such personnel may be greater than the figures noted above.”
Salary increases are based on years of experience and degrees. Advanced degrees are degrees beyond a bachelor’s degree. A typical school board salary schedule includes BA, MA/MS, Ed.S., and Ed.D./Ph.D. Some school boards have a pay scale for a Masters +30 hours.
Does the State Salary Schedule for Licensed Instructional Personnel translate to a pay raise? The answer is that it may, or it may not translate into a pay raise for teachers. The school district’s current salary schedule is the determining factor in whether teachers will receive a pay raise.
Starting Salary: BA and 0 years of Experience
If a school district’s starting salary for a first-year teacher with no experience is $38,500.00, the school district is paying $2,500.00 over the current state starting salary of $36,000. Since the school district’s salary exceeds the State’s Salary Schedule, the school district has met and exceeds the State Salary Schedule, therefore the local school board is not obligated to increase the salary schedule.
If a school district’s starting salary for a first-year teacher with no experience is $38,500.0 and the state starting salary is increased to $40,000, the local school board will have to approve an increase to the starting salary for first year teachers by $1,500.00 ($40,000 – $38,500), which is a pay raise of 3.9%.
If a school district’s starting salary for a first-year teacher with no experience is $40,000.00 or greater and the State Salary Schedule is $40,000.00, the local school board is under no obligation to increase the beginning teacher salary, because the local school board has met the requirement of the State Salary Schedule. In this case, the teacher will receive a raise only if the local school board increases the salary schedule to exceed $40,000.00.
The State Salary Schedule does not define any salary difference between a Masters, Education Specialist, and a Doctorate, only years of experience. The differences in pay are defined by the pay scale adopted by the local school board. And again, an increase in the State Salary Schedule may or may not result in a “raise” for those with advanced degrees if the local school board is already meeting the State Salary Schedule.
Years of Service Beyond 15 Years
There are no provisions in the State Salary Schedule for teacher salaries beyond 15 years of experience. Anything beyond 15 years is at the discretion of the local school board. Increasing the starting salary will help in recruiting teachers, not including a 16– – 20 years of experience to the State Salary Schedule devalues experience in the classroom and is another obstacle to teacher retention.
Note: A change in the State Salary Schedule is independent of the 4% teacher raise proposed by the Governor. The 4% state raise for teachers only applies to the salary unit cost of Tennessee’s Basic Education Program (BEP).
Michael Gonzales, Ed. D.
Professional Educators of Tennessee/ Local Leader