• Sat. May 14th, 2022

Metro Nashville Public Schools considering pay raises for support staff

ByJulie J. Helfer

Mar 23, 2022

Employee compensation is again the top priority for Nashville school leaders this budget cycle.

Despite a history, investing nearly $50 million to revamp the district’s teacher compensation structureclassified employees and support staff continued to worry about their pay not keeping up with other employees in the district and the rising costs of living in Nashville.

The Metro Nashville School Board has yet to submit or vote on a formal budget request this spring — and may not until district officials find out if Nashville Mayor John Cooper has the plans to invest more dollars in the city’s public schools this year, said schools superintendent Adrienne Battle. said Tuesday.

Teacher salary increases:The mayor and school district aim to make Nashville teachers the “highest paid in the state.” Here’s how they plan to do it.

But preliminary budget submissions, which include a “business continuity budget” that outlines the funding needed to maintain this year’s level of service, included salary increase options for certified teachers and other staff.

More than $7.6 million would be required for a “step increase” or salary increase within the district’s salary structures for certified and support staff.

A 1% cost-of-living adjustment would cost an additional $5.5 million.

“The board’s top priority for several years has been employee compensation,” Battle said during a meeting of the school board’s budget committee on Tuesday.

Support staff demand pay raises

Recently, some Metro Nashville support staff and members of Local 205 of the Service Employees International Union — an organization representing private and public sector workers in the state — advocated for pay rises at the Metro Council.

Union member and well-known support staff advocate Honey Hereth has asked for $25 million to raise funds for support staff at a council meeting last week.

Hereth said 80% of support staff represented by SEIU earn less than $40,000 and 35% earn less than $30,000. These positions are disproportionately filled by members of marginalized communities, namely black and brown people, she said.

Shortage of school staff:Public schools in Metro Nashville have dozens of unfilled jobs. Here’s who the district needs to hire.

Support staff, which includes a range of professionals working in school buildings, from janitors to special education assistants, often earn only about a third of what teachers earn.

“We should be given the same dedication, respect and dollars as teachers,” Hereth said. “I have worked alongside them every day for 20 years. Show me my respect too.

Honey Hereth, a veteran paraprofessional at Tulip Grove Elementary School, voices her concerns during a town hall meeting on the state's education funding strategy at the chambers of the Metro Nashville Board of Education in Nashville, Tennessee, on January 12, 2022.

District working with city, nonprofit on support staff compensation study

Metropolitan Schools and the Mayor’s Office worked with the Nashville Public Education Foundation on a highly anticipated compensation study looking at support staff salaries. The mayor first commissioned a teacher salary study that led to a salary increase of more than $50 million last year, or $6,900 per teacher on average.

Through the pay study, school leaders have gathered feedback from union representatives and others and Battle hopes this will lead to further investment in support staff pay, she said. tuesday.

“We hope that the compensation study itself will meet many of the needs we currently have with the compensation of our support staff. We’ve heard from representatives from many of our unions, other leadership roles about what they would like to see, where they think certain challenges and inconveniences arise as we move forward,” Battle said.

“I’m very hopeful and also encouraged by the sense of urgency of the salary study, understanding that we have to do something now.”

She also hinted that council will likely receive an update from the mayor’s office ahead of Cooper’s budget proposal and state of the metro address next month.

Related:MNPS staff and bus drivers demand better working conditions amid continued staff shortages

The district will hold several community meetings to discuss the budget in the coming weeks and the council will vote on a budget request to be sent to Metro Council in April.

John Tiangping, a classified Metro Nashville Public Schools employee, sweeps the cafeteria floors at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee on September 15, 2021.

Upcoming Metro Schools Virtual Community Budget Meetings:

  • Wednesday March 30 at 4 p.m.
  • Tuesday, April 5 at 6 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 7 at 5 p.m.

The district will release more information about the meetings and how to attend this week, district officials announced Tuesday.

Reporters Cassandra Stephenson, Molly Davis and Clare Amari contributed to this report.

Stay up to date on top Tennessee education news by subscribing to our new weekly newsletterSchool area. register here.

Want to read more stories like this? A subscription at any of our Tennessee publications gives you unlimited access to all the latest news across the entire USA TODAY Network.

Meghan Mangrum covers education for the USA TODAY Network – Tennessee. Contact her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.