Educators disappointed after Gov. Haslam says no teacher raises

Educators disappointed after Gov. Haslam says no teacher raises

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By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE)  –  Gov. Bill Haslam in October stood before a room of teachers and educators, pledging to make Tennessee the fastest improving state in the country when it comes to teacher salaries.  However, Monday he announced teachers and other state employees would not be receiving raises due to budget constraints.

The big question is what does this mean for Knox County school's budget and superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre's recommendation for teacher raises?

Gov. Haslam's announcement came down during Monday night's Board of Education meeting where Dr. McIntyre proposed to the board a three percent increase for teacher salaries.

"Well obviously he didn't consult me on the timing," joked Dr. McIntyre Monday night. "I think this is something we're going to have to take a look at, what the governor said, and do a little more homework on what the implications are."

Dr. McIntyre had been counting on the state's 1.7 percent pay increase for teachers. It was part of Gov. Haslam's State of the State address and part of a special announcement he held in October pledging to make Tennessee the fasting improving state in the country when it comes to teacher salaries.

"There's something about saying something in front other people. It's a little like getting married. When you proclaim that in front of other people, you are now held accountable to that," Gov. Haslam said in October to a room full of educators.

Knox County teacher Rob Taylor says the governor's pledge feels like an empty promise.

"I think the governor's administration has paid a lot of lip service of supporting the classroom but when the rubber hits the road, we've been disappointed several times," Taylor said.

During Gov. Haslam's State of the State, he pledged $63 million for teacher salaries.

Tuesday, the governor's office said there will be a $48.6 million reduction in funding for teacher salary increase and a $6 million reduction in BEP salary equity fund.

"I don't think anyone's more disappointed in that than the governor," explained Mike Edwards, president of Knoxville Chamber of Commerce and member of the Tennessee Board of Education.

Two years ago, Edwards pushed for more money for Knox County schools when it could have meant a tax increase but says that's not the answer for the state.

"Counties and municipalities can handle and absorb tax increases differently than the state, the state has sales tax as its primary revenue and to increase sales tax would have far more damaging effects on commerce," Edwards said.

Taylor says his biggest concern is what these reductions mean for his students.

"I don't know of any Knox County teachers concerned about themselves getting a raise, were concerned about the money," said Taylor.

The governor's office says he is committed to making Tennessee the fasting improving state when it comes to teacher salaries by the time he leaves office.

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