Board of Education, Denied Pay Raise Approval, Losing Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Board of Education Executive Director Gary Nixon says employees are starting to leave for jobs that pay more.
Nixon told The Tennessean that his staff’s salary hasn’t been adjusted since at least 2004 and now their pay just isn’t competitive (
Nixon says state board of education members tried to approve raises last fall, but the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration turned down the request.
“We had money to cover it and submitted some adjustments,” Nixon said. “We got a Post-it Note saying it was denied.”

The board’s former general counsel, Rich Haglund, left his position last year. He was making about $60,000 a year and now makes about $80,000 leading the state Department of Education’s charter school office.
“I was making less (at the state board) than most of my law school classmates did right out of law school,” he said.
Nixon said the board’s research associate, Art Fuller, is leaving on March 1. He said Fuller’s salary of $66,000 annually is part of the reason for his departure.
Nine Board of Education members — one for each congressional district in the state — are charged with adopting policies for students, approving curricula and making decisions on teacher licensing. The panel has a staff of six in Nashville including Nixon.
Nixon said he would like to have the ability to negotiate to keep good people on the job and asked the attorney general’s office if his board could reverse the Department of Finance’s decision, but found out last month that it couldn’t.
In his opinion, Attorney General Robert E. Cooper noted the Tennessee law that says “the Commissioners of Human Resources and of Finance and Administration have oversight and approval authority over any compensation increases for the staff of the State Board of Education.”
A spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam told the newspaper that the budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year is being finalized and declined to say whether any state department, including the Board of Education staff, would receive a wage increase.

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