Tag Archives: salary

TEA seeks 6 percent teacher pay raies; report says salaries not so bad now

The Tennessee Education Association Monday called on Gov. Bill Haslam to include a 6 percent pay raise for teachers in the next year’s budget while the National Council on Teacher Quality, a national advocacy organization, issued a report saying Tennessee teacher is low in actual dollars compared to most other states — but not so bad when cost-of-living factors are taken into account.

From The Tennessean:
(The report) shows it takes teachers in Nashville, Shelby County and dozens of other districts decades to reach the average maximum salary of $75,000 for teachers nationwide.

…Nashville and Shelby County came in near the middle for “lifetime earnings” over the course of the 30-year career: The report estimates a teacher in Shelby County earned about $1.9 million over 30 years, starting with a $42,300 salary and ending with a $72,900 salary. Nashville teachers start lower, at an average of $40,400 a year, and receive about $69,600 after 30 years, accounting for “lifetime earnings” of about $1.8 million, according to the report.

Those Tennessee salaries look considerably better when adjusted for 2013 cost-of-living data, produced by the national Council for Community and Economic Research. Shelby County’s adjusted earnings of $2.2 million, with an adjusted ending salary of $83,500, put the district at seventh out of 125 school districts in the report for districts where teachers “earn the most.”

Nashville teachers also fared much better on the “adjusted” scale: Their $2 million annual earnings and $78,000 annual salary helped the district come in 17th out of the 125 districts examined.

…In a statement Tuesday, the Tennessee Education Association called on Haslam to increase teacher pay by 6 percent during the upcoming legislative session, with additional increases scheduled in the next few years. Union executive director Carolyn Crowder referenced Haslam’s promise in asking the governor for the salary increase.

“This proposal represents an investment in our state’s teachers and their students, but it also represents an investment in communities across Tennessee struggling to meet their budgets. We’re simply asking Governor Haslam to honor his promises and make investing in public schools a priority,” Crowder said in a news release.

Haslam denies that he’s not committed to raising teacher salaries, and has promised to focus on education during his second term. However, he recently said any pay raises this year would also be unlikely: Haslam is asking state agencies to prepare budgets with a 7 percent cut while fending off legislative efforts to repeal or reduce some of the state’s main sources of tax revenue.

The Chattanooga TFP has further comment from Haslam:
“Well obviously, as you know, last year one of my priorities was to fund a pay increase for teachers,” Haslam told reporters after Tuesday’s round of department presentations. “We’d like to do that. We’re asking more of them than ever. They’re producing better results than ever.

“But again,” Haslam cautioned, we’re restricted by budget funds what we can do. It’s too early to say this year what we’ll have funds to do. But I don’t think it’s any secret that funding a pay increase for teachers is one of my priorities.”

He added that “obviously, we’ll have to wait and see and it’ll depend on the revenues.”

Revenues are running about $91 million above projected estimates in the current budget year.

The TEA says teacher salaries have remained flat since 2011, Haslam’s first year in office, when compared with the Consumer Price Index. Factoring in rising insurance premiums, Crowder said, some teachers’ salaries “are worth less now than they were when Haslam took office.”

TN Teachers on Reform Roller Coaster Ride (it’s not over yet)

Some teachers may think they’ve lived through a roller coaster of educational changes in recent years reports Kevin Hardy in a Tennessee education reform review. But they haven’t seen anything yet.
An excerpt:
Already, classroom standards are more rigorous. Evaluations are tougher and more regular. And accountability is no longer a catch phrase, but a component of many parts of a teacher’s career.
On Friday, the Tennessee School Board opened the door for teacher pay schemes that link salary to performance. And state officials rolled out plans that will make it tougher to become a teacher and harder to stay in for the long haul.
State officials argue that collectively the changes will aid their quest to get more Tennessee students to meet academic standards and thus help build a more competitive workforce. And to do that, officials say, teachers need to be put under the microscope. Their performance must measure up.
Last week’s action by the state board was just the latest in a host of reforms redefining what Tennessee expects of students and teachers.
The board approved a new minimum pay schedule that de-emphasizes a teacher’s education level and years of experience, and passed a rule requiring every district to develop some kind of differentiated pay plan. Districts could decide to pay more for higher test scores, or give more to teachers in hard-to-staff schools, or even offer more money based on the subjects or grade levels they teach, depending on local plans.
But Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman wants to go even further. In addition to stiffer requirements for first-year teachers, he wants to make license renewal dependent on a teacher’s performance, as determined by an evaluation and student test score data. The board approved a first reading of that policy; another reading is needed for final passage.
While monumental themselves, the changes enacted and unveiled last week are just pieces of a larger reform movement, based on Huffman’s premise that education practices of the past must change to have real improvement in student performance.
The state in recent years has revamped the teacher pension system, quashed collective bargaining rights, made it tougher to achieve tenure and tied teacher evaluations to student test scores.
Altogether, the changes lay out a new vision for Tennessee education, one that eliminates some of the guaranteed stability long enjoyed by teachers and treats them more like private-sector professionals.
And that’s a sea change that states like Tennessee are leading, said Sandi Jacobs, state policy director at the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan research and policy group that advocates for education reform.

Board of Education Goes Along With Huffman’s Teacher Pay Plan

The State Board of Education on Friday approved controversial major revisions of the state’s minimum salary schedule for teachers that sharply reduces the value of experience and advanced degrees, reports Rick Locker.
The board approved the changes sought by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration on a 6-3 vote despite opposition by teachers who packed the meeting room. They said the new plan could freeze their salaries at their 11th year in the profession. The plan proposed by State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman tops out at year 11, while the current plan tops out at year 21.
The current salary schedule lists the minimum annual salaries for teachers for each year of experience through 21 years and for each of five levels of college degrees they hold. The new minimum schedule lists only four pay levels based on years of experience up through the 11th year, and only two levels of college degrees — bachelor’s and any level of advanced degree.
The state’s 135 local school boards are free under the law to pay their teachers more, as all but three rural districts do. But about half the districts pay within 10 percent of the state-required minimums.
The board approved the plan at the urging of Huffman’s Department of Education despite requests to delay a vote by the Tennessee Education Association and the vice chairman of the state legislature’s House Education Committee, Republican Rep. John Forgety of Athens, the former superintendent of his county school district.
Arlington Middle School teacher Barbara Gray, vice president of TEA, told the board that teachers have “serious concern” about the plan. “These changes could seriously damage teaching careers and increase the inequity between the rich and the poor school systems,” she said. “The overall effect of the changes proposed is a substantial lowering of state requirements for teacher salaries.
“While no teacher will see a cut in their current salary, they may also never see another raise, resulting in drastically decreased lifetime earnings.”
Huffman lashed out at critics of the plan and media reports that it advanced under the radar with little public notice or discussion. A
“Tennessee law forbids any district from cutting an individual teachers salary,” Huffman told the board. “Two, there is more state money in the budget for salaries than at any time in Tennessee history. The state has added $130 million in taxpayer money over the last three years to the budget that goes to districts that has to be spent on compensation.
“Three, the proposed minimum salary schedule does not tell districts how to pay teachers. It gives almost complete autonomy to local districts to decide how to pay teachers. So anyone who says that this pay system does this over, that is just not accurate. Local districts are going to develop their own systems on how this gets implemented.”

UT Raises Tuition, Student Fees, Staff Salaries

The University of Tennessee board of trustees ended its two-day summer meeting by approving the system’s nearly $2 billion budget that includes a 6 percent tuition increase, some new student fees, and pay raises for faculty and staff, reports the News Sentinel.
But not without a lot of discussion and even some debate — especially about the proposed tuition increase.
Trustee Crawford Gallimore said he hopes the system is able to demonstrate to taxpayers that “raising tuition is the last resort … and not as just a matter of course that we do every year.”
Student trustee Shalin Shah said he believed students would pay the increase if they understood the reasons for it.
“We have to make the message simple and we have to put it out there,”‘ Shah said. “We’re the Twitter generation, we have to keep it to 42 words or less otherwise we’re not going to get it. That’s just the way it’s going to be.”
Trustee Doug Horne proposed a 3 percent tuition increase, saying the trustees should try to show that they “deserve” additional funds from the state.
“I personally feel like we should show a little bit more initiative here and not raise tuition this much,” he said. “I’ve expressed this to the president. I think we show the students first and the Legislature second that we’re putting our best foot forward to making a monumental effort to not raise tuition this much. I’d personally like to raise it none.”
But other board members said they had already agreed to the figure.
“The 6 percent is somewhat of a studied, evaluated and compromised number,” said Don Stansberry, the board’s vice chairman. “It was worked out in cooperation with the governor, Legislature, administration and university officials. It does weigh the interests of the students and it weighs the interests of the institutions.”

Democrats Criticize Move to Change Teacher Salary Schedule

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State lawmakers are speaking out against a proposal by the state Department of Education they believe would eventually hurt teacher salaries in Tennessee.
Democratic leaders held a press conference on Thursday to oppose the measure that seeks to change the minimum teacher salary schedule.
They note the proposal would reduce steps in salary increases from 21 to four and eliminate incentives for doctorate degrees and post-master’s training.
House Minority Leader Crag Fitzhugh said the proposal could deter individuals looking to teach in Tennessee.
“I don’t know that we can get career teachers anymore,” said the Ripley Democrat.
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is scheduled to present the proposal to the State Board of Education on Friday.
Hyffman said in an email that it’s against the law for any Tennessee school district to cut a teacher’s salary, and that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has added more than $130 million in state money for teacher salaries over the past three years.
State officials say the proposed schedule provides school districts with more latitude to create compensation plans that meet their local needs.
“We will continue to look for ways to increase teacher pay, decrease state mandates and increase local control of school decisions,” Huffman said.

And here’s an excerpt from Rick Locker’s report:
The current schedule lists minimum pay levels for teachers statewide for each year of teaching up to year 21 and for five different levels of degrees attained. The 135 school districts are free to pay above the minimums. Clay, Hancock and Pickett counties pay at the minimum; 20 districts pay within 2 percent of the minimum and about half pay within 10 percent.
But all districts use the schedule’s basic framework of 21 annual step increases and five different levels of education: bachelor’s degree, master’s, master’s plus at least 30 hours of additional college credit, education specialist and doctoral degrees.
The Huffman plan would compress the schedule to four steps — $30,876 base for a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree, get base plus $570 in year two, base plus $3,190 in year six and base plus $6,585 in year 11. Teachers with any level of advanced degree would start at a base $34,291, get base plus $7,030 raise in year six and base plus $10,890 in year 11.
Under the current schedule, minimum teacher pay tops out at 21 years (they may still receive pay raises locally but they’re not mandated by the state). The Huffman plan would top out at 11 years.

Note: News release below.

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Herron Foregoes Party Pay While Serving as Trial Lawyer

State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron is foregoing his party pay while acting as an attorney for the plaintiffs in an ongoing medical malpractice trial that he says could last “five or six weeks.”
Herron sent an email to fellow Democrats saying that he had committed more than five years ago to “a wonderful couple, both devout Democrats, that I would represent them in a case seeking medical care and redress for grievous injuries to their severely disabled grandson.”
In an interview Wednesday, Herron said Cody Wade, 17 at the time, underwent surgery on his trachea that allegedly left him unable to breath for a period of time, resulting in severe disabilities. The lawsuit, brought by Cody’s grandparents and conservators, Reba and Ronnie Wade of Martin, is against HealthSouth King Creek Rehabilitation Hospital and two physicians.
A jury trial began Monday in Weakley County Circuit Court.
Herron said he decided to forego his salary as party chairman starting May 15, when he attended a son’s college graduation, and will continue in that status until the trial has ended and he can resume fulltime duties as party chair.
The former state senator said that, in effect, he is returning temporarily to the “volunteer chairman model” followed by seven of the last ten state Democratic chairmen. His two immediate predecessors, Gray Sasser and Chip Forrester, were full-time chairs with a full salary – as was he until now.
Herron said he still expects to average 80 hours per week for the full year, since he often spends 100 hours per week on party labors otherwise. Even during the trial, Herron said he is remaining active in fundraising, overseeing staff including the hiring of a new deputy finance director and other duties.

Note: Text of Herron’s email is below.

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Legislators’ Salary & Benefits Package Nearly $60,000 Per Year

Though state legislators talk about working for low pay, in reality, they take home more money as part-time lawmakers than most Tennesseans do in a year, reports Andrea Zelinski.
Looking at annual salary alone, lawmakers take home no less than $20,000 a year. Factor in their per diem for food and lodging, health insurance benefits and 401K, and it’s closer to $60,000.
…Lawmakers collect a legislative salary of $20,203 a year. Add in $12,000 a year for a home office — regardless whether they’ve set one up — and lawmakers make $8,000 more annually than the average Tennessean.
According to the U.S. Census, the per capita income in the state was $24,197 as recently at 2011.
State legislators also collect $173 in per diem expenses to cover their food and lodging while working at the seat of government or conducting government business, an amount tied to federal government rates. The daily automatic pay breaks down to $107 a night for lodging and $66 for meals and incidentals, whether the money is used for those reasons or not.
Sitting senators last year took home more than $14,600 on average in per diem, according to a review of state records by The City Paper. Legislators in the House of Representatives averaged more than $13,800 each in per diem.
…Lawmakers can also opt into the state’s health insurance program for state employees, which covers 80 percent of the premium. The state’s share of monthly premiums ranges from nearly $6,000 for individuals to $15,400 for families.
Long-term, sitting lawmakers also qualify to cash in on pension benefits once they leave office. After hitting 55 years of age, lawmakers who have served at least four years can begin collecting a pension that boils down to $81.73 per month for each year in the General Assembly. That’s a minimum of almost $4,000 a year for a lawmaker who spent the four years in the legislature needed to qualify
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Haslam Raises Salary of TennCare Director to $256K

Gov. Bill Haslam has quietly raised the annual salary of TennCare Director Darin Gordon to $256,000 while leaving other top administration officials with only the 2.5 percent salary boost given to all state employees this year.
“Tennessee is fortunate to have Darin in this role. He is well-respected across the country and has saved the state millions by keeping the program’s growth trend below national averages,” said Haslam spokesman David Smith in an email response to a question on Gordon’s salary increase.
“He is responsible for managing the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, which is significant in terms of the number of Tennesseans the program serves as well as the dollars — both state and federal — that fund the program,” Smith said.
The Gordon pay raise took effect in September. All state employees got a 2.5 percent increase effective July 1, in accordance with a Haslam-proposed budget approved by the Legislature. After the 2.5 percent increase, Gordon’s pay was $234,734, Smith said. The subsequent increase to $256,000 amounts to another 7.3 percent hike.
TennCare’s overall budget, meanwhile, continues to expand.

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Legislators Get a Pay Raise, Plus a Penny More Per Traveled Mile

State legislators will be paid $1,194 more per year in salary during the 108thGeneral Assembly than they were paid last session, an increase of about 6.28 percent that will be the first boost in lawmaker’s base pay since 2008.
The increase went into effect on election day, Nov. 6, in accord with a state law enacted in 2005, according to Connie Ridley, director of the Office of Legislative Administration. The law calls for automatic increases every two years based on the increases in average state employee compensation during the proceeding two-year period.
The first year the law took effect, 2006, saw legislator pay increase from $16,500 – where it had stood since 1988 – to $18,123. In 2008, it rose to $19,009. In 2010, after two years in which state employees got no salary increase, it was not changed, officials said.
The new base salary for a lawmaker will be $20,203, where it will remain for the duration of the 108thGeneral Assembly, which will end in November, 2014.
Under the same 2005 law, the speakers of the House and Senate get three times the salary of an average legislator. Thus, House Speaker Beth Harwell and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey will now be paid $60,609 per year, up from $57,027.
In addition to their base salary, legislators also get $1,000 per month as a “home office allowance,” a flat rate that is not subject to an automatic increase. They further receive a daily “per diem” expense allowance for each day they engage in legislative work, which will remain unchanged in the coming year at $173 per day. The “per diem” allowance follows a federal government standard for calculating the cost of a motel and meals in Nashville and the federal figure was unchanged this year.
Legislators are also paid mileage for driving from their home to Nashville for legislative meetings. The mileage rate, also tied to a federal formula, will increase a penny per mile for the upcoming session, from 46 cents to 47 cents, for the 108th General Assembly, officials said.
Nationwide, state legislator salaries vary dramatically, according to the National Conference of State Legislators website – from zero in New Mexico to $95,291 per year in California.
Tennessee seems ahead of most neighboring states in lawmaker base pay. Georgia, for example, pays its legislators $17,342 per year and Mississippi $10,000. Kentucky gives its lawmakers $188.22 per day and Alabama just $10 a day, the website indicates.

Haslam Backs Firing of UT Football Coach; Silent on Successor

Chas Sisk reports that Gov. Bill Haslam, who is chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, supports the decision to fire UT football coach Derek Dooley…. but has no opinion on a successor or the salary he should be paid.
“Ultimately college football at a school as big as Tennessee, it is about results,” Haslam said. “I like Derek a lot. I think he in a lot of ways brought a lot of things to the program … but for Tennessee to have the football program they need, they need to have a better won-lost record than they’ve had for the last three years.”
Haslam said he did not have a favorite to replace Dooley. Nor would he say how much Dooley’s replacement should be paid — an issue for the UT athletic department as it faces a budget crunch after buying out its third coach’s contract in less than five years.
“I don’t think ultimately that’s the governor’s decision,” he said. “In the end, the reality is Tennessee football is a big revenue-producing sport, and it helps finance scholarships for the rest of the school student body as well as a lot of the other, non-revenue-producing sports. In order for Tennessee to work, they need to have a successful program.”