More challenges ahead in setting teacher pay

Published 11:47 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

Despite raising teacher pay for two years, the Carter County School System still faces additional pay increases to meet state mandated minimums.
“Even though we fought the other day to get our teachers a 3 percent raise, that’s still not enough to get our teachers up to the state minimum,” Dr. Tracy McAbee told board members on Thursday. The outgoing director of schools said this year’s raise, combined with the 4 percent raise implemented last year, aren’t enough to keep pace.
“It’s still not enough to give our teachers the minimum that the state says they deserve,” he said.
Richard Church, assistant director of schools and human resource director for the district, explained that the state sets a minimum pay scale each year for teachers, based on education and experience.
The scale is designed to step teachers up each year until 2025, where the starting pay for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and no experience will be $44,500, he said.
“Right now, with the 3 percent raise you passed, we can just get them to the state minimum,” Church said, explaining that an additional $97,687 will be pulled from other parts of the budget to ensure each teacher’s pay reaches the state minimum.
But that’s just for one year, he cautioned, adding that the district has no choice but follow state standards. “You cannot not pay what the state says,” he said. “Three percent is gracious, it’s a good raise. But 3 percent does not get us to where we need to be.”
Tony Garland, chairman of the school board, said Carter Carter ranks in the top 10 districts of the state who are close to meeting the state minimums, adding that others are significantly farther behind.
McAbee said the 2023 budget will be challenging for the district. “We have got to find $400,000” to get on pace, “so we’re trying to eat the elephant one bite at a time,” he said.

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