Proposed Changes to Salary Schedule

The information was sent by email from the State Department of Ed on 4/22/2013.  Click Here to read the full email.  Emphasis and italics added be me in the text below.

The State Board of Education last week passed two items related to teacher salaries. Salary information often is misconstrued, so the department wants to be sure that teachers have accurate information about the state board’s actions and next steps.

The key takeaways are as follows:

  • Local districts may continue to use the same salary schedule for the 2013-14 school year. They also have greater flexibility in using the 1.5% increase in state salary funding that was passed in this year’s budget.
  • Local districts will work to create local salary plans for the 2014-15 school year. These plans may continue to include years of service and degrees, but should also include additional factors. Local districts have significant discretion in creating new salary plans.
  • No currently employed teacher can receive a lower salary.

The board first looked at a change to the minimum state salary schedule for 2013-14 that provides more flexibility to local school districts to create alternative salary schedules. Under state law, no current teacher can be paid less next year than this year, so teachers always have legal protection against salary cuts. The 2013-14 schedule gives local districts greater discretion in allocating raises for next year, while allowing districts the option of continuing to use the same salary schedule as the district used this year.

Second, the board voted on revised rules that require districts to create flexible pay plans for 2014-15 and beyond. Under Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-3-306, passed in 2007), districts are supposed to create pay plans that consider additional factors beyond years of experience and graduate degrees. While districts may choose to include seniority and degrees in their compensation structure, they also should consider factors such as additional leadership responsibilities, hard-to-staff subject areas, and performance. Under the state board rules, local districts must work over the course of the next year to develop compensation plans based on their local needs. Again, no existing teacher may be paid less under any new salary structure.

There have been some reports suggesting that the state board is mandating “merit pay” or requiring districts to limit raises strictly to test scores or evaluation results. This is not accurate. Local districts will have broad latitude to create compensation plans that base future raises on factors that make sense in their local community. In short, starting in the 2014-15 school year, local districts will create local plans for salary that may include a broad range of factors, but will not be limited strictly to years of experience and graduate degrees.

The state board actions were a “first reading,” which means that the new rules will not become official until the board passes them at its summer meeting. Teachers can watch the salary presentation and state board discussion here (discussion begins around the 2:00 mark). You can access state board meeting agenda items, including salary schedule (item III.C) and differentiated pay plan guidelines (item III.E) here.

Please contact Educator.Communications@tn.gov with questions or comments about these proposed changes to the salary schedule.

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