The Fayetteville City School Board has adopted a resolution urging legislators to increase public school teachers’ pay by the same amount invested in Education Savings Accounts established through legislation passed by the General Assembly this past session.
And, the board is taking its case to the Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA), calling on all public school systems in the state of Tennessee to join in supporting the resolution.
The idea for the resolution was born out of discussion during the school board’s work session held not long after Gov. Bill Lee signed the Education Savings Account bill into law.
“We said if the legislature is willing to put $25 million over five years into voucher savings accounts to help private school kids, why don’t we match that with increasing teacher pay for all the public school teachers,” said Mark Clark, school board member and president-elect of TSBA, during last week’s meeting of the city school board.
Clark reached out to TSBA attorneys to draft the resolution.
“I don’t think our board has ever done this before,” Clark said of the city school board initiating a resolution to be adopted by TSBA.
“The intent was actually to approve the resolution and have it at the Delegate Assembly in November so TSBA will be calling on all the school systems in the state,” Clark explained.
The resolution reads, in part, “… Local school boards in Tennessee are charged with governing the school systems so that all students receive the best educational opportunities in order to graduate prepared to enter a postsecondary institution or the workforce.
“ … Local school boards recognize that funding for teacher salaries under the Basic Education Program (BEP) under current law is insufficient,” the resolution continues. “ … Districts are funded based on a district-wide student-teacher ratio, rather than the actual number a district is required to employ to meet school-level ratio requirements … The teacher salary used for BEP funding does not represent the actual average teacher salary statewide.
“ … In 2019 the General Assembly passed Education Savings Account legislation that will divert money that could be allocated towards public education, specifically teacher salaries, to private education institutions … The Tennessee School Boards Association Delegate Assembly believes the state’s investment in adequately funding teacher salaries should, at a minimum, match the amount invested in Education Savings Accounts.”
The resolution goes on to read that the Delegate Assembly “recognizes that adequately funding teacher salaries is necessary to the efficient and effective operation of public schools in Tennessee.”
“… The Tennessee School Boards Association Delegate Assembly urges the General Assembly to provide for an increase in the instructional salary component of the BEP equal to the amount of public dollars spent on the Education Savings Account program each year, including all funds associated with administration of the program.”