Metro Nashville Public Schools likely will begin, in the next few days, work on a teacher compensation plan that could potentially authorize more pay for teachers in certain Metro schools and subject areas.
Development of the plan, called a “differentiated teacher pay plan,” is being mandated by a new state law, and targets high-poverty or high-minority schools, and teachers endorsed in hard-to-fill subject areas. Teachers from such schools are more likely to have less education and less experience than other schools in the public school district, according to a study from the Tennessee Department of Education.
Differentiated teacher pay plans can take several forms, according to June Keel, assistant superintendent of human resources at Metro Nashville Public Schools.
Options for the district include the possibility of extra money for teachers working in high-poverty or high-minority schools, or for teachers endorsed to instruct in hard-to-fill subject areas including math, science and special education.
The plans can also include performance pay, which means teachers can be paid more if their students score well on certain standardized tests.
“It’s wide open,” Keel said Thursday.
Plans must be approved by both the district and by the local teachers’ union, the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA), before being presented to the state.
“We have not started our negotiations with MNEA yet, so I can’t predict right now what format our differentiated pay plan would take,” Keel said.
Work on Metro’s plan is likely to begin in the next few days, Keel said. She said a preliminary plan ideally would be created by a sidebar committee — one that is separate from the negotiation process but includes representatives of both the district and MNEA.
The district hopes to have a plan ready for consideration in time for the district’s budget process, which will begin in December or January.
The completed plan must be submitted to the state Department of Education by this spring, in time for implementation in the 2008-2009 school year.
Keel said she wants an initial target for the plan to be Metro schools that are currently considered in corrective action by federal No Child Left Behind laws. Schools in corrective action are Dalewood Middle, Cameron Middle, H.G. Hill Middle, Murrell K-8, Murrell High, Hunters Lane High, McGavock High and Brick Church Middle.
The state Department of Education has asked that officials in the state’s six metropolitan school districts pay special attention to improving parity of teacher experience and education levels in schools with high-poverty or high-minority student populations, Keel said.
Similar problems exist at other districts throughout the state — disparities among Nashville public schools are actually less severe, on the whole, than those for Shelby and Hamilton County schools, according to state data.