MNPS Proposes New Teacher Pay Scale
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Leaders in Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) are working to change its teacher pay plan, after district leaders said the system misses the mark.
Angela Assalone is receiving training she hopes to bring back to her school. After eight successful years in the classroom, she's now helping fellow teachers as a coach.
"There are so many things I saw wrong that I felt like I needed to start finding a place where I could be to help make changes," Assalone said.
In fact, in a poll 76 percent of Metro's best teachers said ineffective teaching was a problem in the district; 53 percent said it was a problem at their school.
"Right now, no matter how much work you put in," Assalone explained, "or how little work you put in you get paid the same."
By 2017 the controversial teacher evaluations could be the most important factor in determining pay increases. The best rated teachers could see up to 4 percent raise for performance alone.
"It's using this instrument to do something it wasn't intended for," Metro Nashville Educators Association President Stephen Henry said. He helped craft the new proposal and hopes the delayed implementation provides enough time to tweak the often criticized evaluation process.
The changes are in line with a new state policy that requires districts to revise its pay scale to better reflect performance.
Katie Cour, MNPS Director of Talent Strategy said the evaluations help reward teachers for a job well done, "and then make sure that our teachers that are not necessarily hitting the mark, again we think this is a small number, but…those teachers are encouraged to look elsewhere or not encouraged to stay in our district."
Under the plan, teachers would receive a one-time $10,000 stipend paid out over five years for advanced degrees. That doesn't include degrees in high needs areas like special education where teachers can earn much more. Those who are Nationally Board certified and/or accept leadership opportunities also eligible for additional stipends. Years of service will continue to be factored in.
The goal is to get the most competent teacher for every child. The $40,000 starting salary is helping attract the best and brightest. The problem is they're not sticking around.
"None of us go into this profession to make money,"Assalone added. "We're all here to work and to work hard but we do have to make a living out of it at the same time."
It's another change in a profession where the word has become commonplace. But Assalone said for her this change is welcome.
"But it is scary. People are afraid of it. It's change. It's different." She says it may take some time before it's widely accepted.
District leaders said 85 percent of teachers will get more money under the plan and some of the best teachers could be making six figures at the end of their career. It's estimated to cost the district $1 million more to start and nearly 3 million after five years.