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W.C. committee discusses teacher salary proposal

W.C. committee discusses teacher salary proposal
At a school budget review last week, educators proposed to officials a salary revision in the hope of  lowering teacher turnover rates for schools across Weakley County.
At a Weakley County Finance, Ways and Means Committee meeting on Wednesday, commissioners met with educators to review the school budget for the county.
The most discussed topic at the meeting was a proposed adjustment to the current educator salary schedule for Weakley County.
Educators at the meeting said they believe that the current salary schedule is resulting in higher turnover rates for teachers in the county. According to the report, salaries for teachers with 4 to 14 years of experience need to be adjusted in order to stay competitive with surrounding counties.
A teacher from Dresden High School, Betsi Foster, gave a presentation to the finance department on both the current and proposed salary schedules for the 2010-2011.
“Weakley County teacher’s salaries used to be very competitive in this area,” said Betsi Foster. “In the past six years we seem to have fallen short, especially in certain groups of teachers.”
Graphs presented during the meeting show that while Weakley County remains competitive with other counties for entry-level educators with one to three years of experience, the teachers beyond that experience group leave for other areas to attain higher salaries.
“There’s a big spike in the one to three years of experience area,” Foster said.
“Then we develop this lagging … this is where we are losing our good, experienced, quality teachers. From the years 4 to 14 we kind of have this dip, and then we level off.”
Foster noted that the current salary schedule for educators begins at 10 percent above the state’s minimum salary for teachers. According to the presentation, each degree level ends at less than two percent above the state minimum as years of experience increase.
The presentation, which compared salary schedules with schools in the counties of Henry, Obion and Carroll as well as Graves Co. in Ky., showed different schedules for educators with Bachelor’s degrees and a variety of advanced level degrees.
While salaries start out higher for more advanced degrees, the trend for increasing salaries remains roughly the same through all levels.
For a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree, for instance, the starting pay would be approximately $32,000. Pay would then increase to just under $34,000 by year three, but would only increase marginally for each subsequent year.
The schedule shows that a teacher’s salary would be just over $36,000 – a $4,000 increase – after 10 years.
The proposal’s goal is to remain competitive with entry level salaries, but also resolve the issues with salaries in the targeted experience range. The proposal also hopes to simplify the pay scale and become the model pay scale for other Tennessee districts.
The proposed schedule slightly increases salaries for the one to three year experience group. Teachers with four to eight years of experience will then receive a substantial pay raise, followed by teachers with 9 to 15 years of experience.
Pay increases with teachers in higher experience groups follow suit.
According to the proposal, a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree would start at just under $34,000 and would have a salary closer to $39,000 after 10 years.
“We want to correct the problems … we want to remain competitive and we want to award our experienced master teachers,” Foster said.
“Thirty percent of teachers in the county have more than twenty years of experience, so we want to make sure we acknowledge them in any kind of new salary schedule.”
The current cost to pay all certified teaching personnel for Weakley County is roughly $13.5 million, not including supplements. The proposed salary schedule would result in an increase of less than four percent, increasing the salary figure to just over $14 million.
These figures do not include salaries paid with grants.
County commissioners responded by saying that the school board should approve any proposals before the finance department can.
The Weakley County School Board will meet on Thursday, July 1 at 2 p.m., with a joint Health, Education, and Economic Development and Finance, Ways and Means committees meeting immediately following at 4 p.m.
“It’s my opinion that the school board has to make a decision before we can make a decision,” said County Commissioner Eric Owen.
“Then maybe we can think about it.”
WCP 6.29.10

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