How Much?

The question. How much should a teacher in the Loudon County school system be paid?

I know this article will make some angry but that's not the purpose. However, this conversation must take place and before I go any further let me make this as clear as I can. Teaching is a noble profession and my thanks go to those who have made it their calling in life to be teachers. I for one wouldn't want the job regardless the pay.

Loudon County public education has the potential to bankrupt county government and the tax payers if spending is not brought under control. By far the single largest expense for tax payers is education. 65% of all property tax dollars go to education. That's up dramatically over just the last few years.

Within education, the single largest driver of the escalating cost of education is employee costs. Those costs have also risen dramatically over just the last few years. Not due so much to higher pay scales but much more about a large increase in the number of employees now on the school payroll. 77% of the 37 mil. plus budget goes to the employees.

From, 03-04 to 08-09 the board's expenditures increased by nearly twelve million dollars. During this same five year period, the board added 165 new teachers and assistants. (108 teachers, 57 assistants). From 03-04 to present, the system has added only about 64 students to their enrollment. In fact our current enrollment, 4998, is now nearing 2004-2005 levels.

What are the facts?

Average pay for Loudon County teacher is approximately $43,000.00. The high end at $66,900.00 the low end $32,500. This does not include any benefits.

Loudon County teachers work under a 200 day contract with 180 days in classroom with students.

By law, every teacher must have duty free planning periods:

Teachers in kindergarten through grade twelve (K 12) shall have duty-free planning periods during the established instructional day.  At least two and one-half (2) hours of planning time shall be provided each week during which teachers shall have no other assigned duties or responsibilities, other than planning for instruction.

By law, every teacher must have duty free lunch periods:

Duty Free Lunch Period. In schools providing a lunch period for students, all teachers shall be provided each day with a lunch period during which they shall not have assigned duties. The lunch period for each teacher shall be at least the same amount of time as that allowed for students.

Loudon County teachers are off for Labor Day, five days for fall break, election day, Veteran's Day, three days for Thanksgiving, ten days for Christmas, Martin Luther King Day, 5 days for spring break, 2 days for Easter break, school ends the end of May, teachers return to class first of August.

So, how much should a teacher in the Loudon County school system be paid? 30K, 50K, 75K, 100K? What's the go by? What comparison should be used? Teachers across the state or the country? Performance? Other vocations requiring degrees? Policemen, fireman, nurses? Loudon County's resident's average pay is $32,000.00. Should that be considered? The cost of living in Loudon County? Could we/should we pay more if we had fewer employees? I don't know. I do know that the current cost increases by the school system are unsustainable. 

The much needed and overdue building program was sacrificed for school employee raises. Loudon County tax payers are on the verge of a massive tax increase in the name of education, the third property tax increase in five years in the name of education. Where and how does this end? 

Something's got to give.

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8/11/10