Democrats Bemoan Changes to Teacher Salary Schedule


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State lawmakers are speaking out against a proposal by the state Department of Education they believe would eventually hurt teacher salaries in Tennessee.

Democratic leaders held a press conference on Thursday to oppose the measure that seeks to change the minimum teacher salary schedule.

They note the proposal would reduce steps in salary increases from 21 to four and eliminate incentives for doctorate degrees and post-master's training.

House Minority Leader Crag Fitzhugh said the proposal could deter individuals looking to teach in Tennessee.

"I don't know that we can get career teachers anymore," said the Ripley Democrat.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is scheduled to present the proposal to the State Board of Education on Friday.

He said in an email that it's against the law for any Tennessee school district to cut a teacher's salary, and that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has added more than $130 million in state money for teacher salaries over the past three years.

State officials say the proposed schedule provides school districts with more latitude to create compensation plans that meet their local needs.

"We will continue to look for ways to increase teacher pay, decrease state mandates and increase local control of school decisions," Huffman said.

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