Cooper: Metro teachers will still get cost of living raise in January despite city's budget woes

Posted at 8:53 AM, Nov 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-26 19:36:41-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Metro Nashville teachers will still get their 3% raise in January, despite the city’s ongoing budget problems.

In July, former Mayor David Briley announced an immediate 3% pay raise for teachers and staff and an additional 3% cost of living adjustment in January 2020.

On Tuesday, Mayor John Cooper said teachers and staff will still get the cost of living raise even though the city has a more than $40 million budget hole. He said the 3% -- $7.5 million of funding -- will be permanent and sourced from excess MNPS fund balance, of which $2.5 million has come from MDHA.

Read more: State Comptroller rejects Metro Nashville's current budget, says it's not balanced

The cost of living adjustment still needs Metro Council approval and will go before the Board of Education in December.

“Nashville’s teachers are our most important resource when it comes to public education, and we’re keeping an important promise made to our hard-working educators,” said Mayor Cooper. “We still have work to do in understanding how to better attract and retain teachers in our school system. I look forward to the results of the expert compensation study currently underway that will help us identify long-term solutions for improving teacher compensation.”

The issue of teacher pay has been a central focus in both elections and protests through 2019. Amand Kail, President of Metro Nashville Education Association, said this raise is very appreciated by the teachers. However, she thinks without some sort of recurring increase in the future, it doesn't help with the cost of living in Nashville that much.

"If you're a teacher with 15 years of experience 10 years ago and you're a teacher with 15 years of experience now, you're only earning $100 more than you were 10 years ago," said Kail.

She marched with hundreds of others through the streets of Nashville in May, asking for a 10-percent increase to teacher pay.

"What we want to do is put requirements for annual cost of living increases. We want to put in the salary schedules that MNPS has proposed doing that would lift the employees up to having salaries that equal the average salary here in Nashville based on education levels and experience. We want to put that in a contract," she said.

An expert teacher compensation study is expected to be completed in February of 2020 to find "the causes of MNPS teacher attraction and retention challenges."