(The Center Square) – The average public school classroom teacher in Tennessee made $52,596 during the 2019-20 school year, according to a new report from the Tennessee Comptroller’s Office of Research and Education Accountability.
The average salary rises to $55,210 if it includes classroom teachers and positions such as librarians, school counselors and principals, and it jumps to $55,554 if it includes all personnel in a school district with an educator’s license.
The Tennessee Department of Education's budget was increased by $219 million in this year’s budget, which included $120 million for teacher raises, allowing teachers with no experience a staring salary of $38,000 a year or more. With an advanced degree, the minimum starting salary is $41,605.
“Between [fiscal year] 2016 and [fiscal year] 2020, lawmakers enacted a total of $429 million in recurring increases for teacher pay,” The Sycamore Institute wrote when Gov. Bill Lee proposed his budget plan for fiscal year 2022, which started July 1. “Since that time, growth in Tennessee teachers’ average pay has begun to catch up with inflation.”
Teachers in six Tennessee school districts have an average salary of more than $60,000 a year: Oak Ridge Schools ($66,926), Maryville City Schools ($66,863), Alcoa City Schools ($65,064), Arlington Community Schools ($63,196), Franklin Special School District ($61,822) and Johnson City Schools ($61,277).
Six districts featured average classroom teacher salaries that were less than $45,000 a year: Lake County Schools ($43,624), Grundy County Schools ($43,792), Richard City Schools ($44,015), Johnson County Schools ($44,181), Overton County Schools ($44,578) and Smith County Schools System ($44,880).
The report also detailed which districts changed the most in average teacher salary from the previous school year.
The highest increases were at Williamson County Schools (6.9%), Lewis County Schools (5.94%), Carroll County Schools (5.25%), Fayette County Schools (4.89%), DeKalb County School District (4.83%) and Pickett County Schools (4.81%).
Eight districts in Tennessee had a decrease in average classroom teacher pay, with Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools seeing the largest decrease (2.01%).
“A district’s average salary may decrease if a substantial number of higher paid teachers retire and are either not replaced or replaced with newer teachers at a lower pay rate,” the report said.
Union City Schools, Richard City Schools, Sequatchie County Schools, Loudon County School District, Rogersville City Schools, Millington Municipal Schools and Jackson County School District were the other district that had a decrease, ranging from 0.67% to 0.1% dips.