Local legislators want Hamilton County to agree new state education funds fit their definition of 'classroom teachers' | Chattanooga Times Free Press

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Nasville – Local lawmakers are urging Hamilton County Mayor Jim Koppinger and county school leaders to limit the system’s share of the most recent $42.9 million 

The Tennessee Legislature called for an increase in education salaries to increase the salaries of “classroom teachers” that legislators consider to be actual.

The two senators and all five representatives of the county delegation defined them as persons who are qualified to teach, and also spend 50% or more of their time “used to guide students in the classroom or through other methods of guidance, such as online guide".

In a letter to Coppinger, school board chairman Joe Wingate, other school board members and Governor Bryan Johnson, the lawmakers said that they believed that Republican Governor Bill Lee (Bill Lee)’s additional funding plan aims "to increase the salary of classroom teachers.

The letter continued: "As far as we know, the local education bureau (school district) has the right to allocate salary increases only to classroom teachers." "In the past, the legislature has passed many increases in classroom teachers' salaries, and [school district] has chosen to increase salaries. Assign to other personnel, including administrative personnel away from the classroom."

Signed by Senator Todd Gardenhire of R-Chattanooga. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Bo Watson, R-Hixson; House Finance Chairman Patsy Hazlewood, R-Signal Mountain; and Representative Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah; Joseph Hakeem (Yusuf Hakeem), D-Chattanooga (D- Chattanooga); Esther Helton of R-East Ridge; Robin Smith (R-Hixson).

Last week failed to meet the efforts of Coppinger and Wingate.

Hamilton County’s share of the 2% growth appropriation allocated by the District Council is $1,884,000.

The teacher’s salary increase is a thorny issue for Gardenhire. He has complained for some time that when state officials said that the budget for educators in the budget had increased by a certain percentage, it would not necessarily be translated into Tennessee’s Basic Law. Classroom teacher. Funding formula for educational programs.

Gardenhire said in an interview: “As long as the supervisors, teacher organizations, and education associations want more money, they always leave the teachers out as a reason to donate all the money.” “When we When donating money to them, many teachers in the classroom did not fulfill their promises or thought they were promised."

Gardenhire and Carter reintroduced a bill last year that aimed to write their definition of classroom teachers (50% or more of teaching time) into state law. Gardenhire said there is no legal definition.

He said: "Except for the BEP formula, it doesn't define what a classroom is. That is a person with a teacher certificate." "And it can be anyone, it can be an administrator, a director, a principal, or a consultant. You can say it."

The BEP formula allocates the state share of pre-kindergarten K-12 public schools in Tennessee to 141 local educational institutions in four basic categories based on the number of enrolled students and the ability of local governments to increase tax revenue to pay the corresponding share.

Local governments in poor counties only need to pay 10% of their share. Hamilton County is one of the wealthier counties, accounting for approximately 50% of the cost of its K-12 operations. The system also has more employees (including teachers) than the number required by the BEP formula.

BEP has four main categories: teaching salaries, teaching benefits (such as health insurance), classroom needs (such as textbooks and technology), and non-classroom areas (such as school buses, maintenance, and operations).

As Gardenhire said, state law does not define classroom teachers. The BEP guidance salary category does cover employees with teaching permits. The list has 20 categories, including general teachers, vocational and technical education teachers, principals, assistant principals, school counselors, psychologists, librarians, social workers, etc.

The governor and lawmakers of Tennessee, including Lee, have set the proposed increase in education as a set percentage of "teachers" for many years. But this is actually a shortcut to increase education spending.

At the special meeting, Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn (Penny Schwinn) said that these percentages may not be achieved, especially for larger areas.

"So if they used BEP to hire these teachers and more people in the past, then their teaching content might need to increase by 8% to cover 4% (up) of everyone," Schwinn said in a speech. Senate Finance Committee hearing at special meeting. "That's why we can't get direct proportions across the state."

The Governor of Hamilton County, Dr. Brian Johnson, said in an interview that the system is grateful for the state’s support and that raising teacher salaries "will continue to be our focus."

He said he is still trying to understand how much money the county can actually expect.

Johnson said the Hamilton County School District has about 6,000 employees, of which about 3,200 have teacher certifications. Among them, 2,700 people received partial salary support through BEP. Another 525 funding ratios are higher than the formula.

Johnson said: "We cherish teachers in the same way and appreciate the work done at the state level, and continue to focus on raising the salaries of educators." "This is a promise that we praise, and it is a commitment to the governor and the legislature. I appreciate everything you have done."

According to county system data, in Hamilton County, the average weighted average share of all teaching salaries in the state increased by 1% or 0.5%.

Johnson said the system is still "in its infancy", that is, to understand how much the state's latest $43 million financing will actually see.

The principal also pointed out: "Everyone must run a school. Teachers absolutely have the greatest impact on students' academic and growth. But I also know that we must ensure that bus drivers get there safely. School nutrition staff must provide breakfast. Also Have lunch."

Johnson said that once the county actually receives additional funding, the next step will be to work with the school board and continue to work to "actively compensate our teachers." When asked about the situation where local lawmakers would like to see this money be used exclusively for teachers spending 50% or more of their time in the classroom, Johnson pointed out that making the situation "more complicated is that we are in the midst of a global pandemic." ".

Johnson said the system allowed librarians and coaches to spend 50% or more of their time to fill vacancies left by teachers who tested positive for the coronavirus or were infected with COVID-19.

He said that the faculty and staff will "propose options to the school board." "Obviously, we will consider the choices they (legislators) share and propose to the board. This is what the choice looks like, this is what the choice looks like, and this is also The choice looks like.

When talking about the delegation’s request, Johnson said: “We will have to study it in depth.” “I think the request has been made. I totally agree that we want the teachers to do their best.” This is our position.

Beth Brown, president of the Tennessee Educational Association, said that Gardenhire "has historically defined the definition of a classroom teacher in the BEP formula."

Brown said that the "biggest problem" she has encountered in the approach taken by the delegation is that "it completely ignores the critical role of every educator in providing services to students during the pandemic."

She said this includes education support professionals, bus drivers, food service workers, cleaners, educational assistants working in classrooms, counselors, nurses, etc.

Brown said: "During the pandemic, these people have played a key role in continuing to meet the social, emotional, ideological, academic, and physical needs of students." "The [Education Association] will oppose any restrictions on the region. The legislature Regarding this decision as a regional decision, we hope that all regions will recognize and call on all regions to recognize that TEA believes this is a key role played by all educators during the pandemic."

Jeanette Omarkhail, president of the Hamilton County Education Association, agreed.

She said: "I will tell you that for us, for me and the association, we will not distinguish between educators. Educators are valuable, and all of our educators, whether classified or certified Yes, it is valuable to our students." "Without the support of others, classroom teachers cannot complete the work they are doing. Therefore, changing this idea is everywhere in our minds."

Omarkhail added, "We are in dialogue with Gardenhire and Carter."

Gardenhire said: "We want to be our voters. By the way, they are all TEA members and we want to do what they ask us to do. But for years, they have been beating us.'You are not for the teachers.' Okay. , Now let us see who is suitable for the teacher."

Lee will propose more budget education proposals for the 2020-21 fiscal year, and legislators will review the proposals at regular meetings.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com, or

. Follow @AndySher1 on Twitter.

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