When Nashville’s Board of Education passed the school district’s controversial new rezoning plan last summer, the plan called for a differentiated teacher pay plan that would give higher salaries to attract teachers to some schools affected by the rezoning.
Negotiations between Metro Nashville Public Schools and the Metro Nashville Education Association (MNEA) resulted in financial incentives for teachers at those rezoning-affected schools, but not exactly clear-cut higher salaries.
Teachers at rezoning-affected North Nashville schools will receive an extra two weeks of paid time each year, to be used for professional development and planning.
The task force that originally proposed the rezoning plan to the school board reconvened Thursday for the first time since last year, and task force member Melvin Black expressed concerns about the negotiated incentives.
“I’m not so sure that this is what we had in mind when we put this thing together,” Black said.
June Keel, assistant superintendent for human resources at MNPS, said negotiations with the MNEA stipulated that a salary increase for teachers at the rezoning-affected schools would have necessitated “fresh-starting” those schools — meaning that all teachers would have reapplied for their jobs, with the positions and corresponding higher salaries open to all MNPS employees.
“We did not think that was feasible or practical,” Keel said.
The district is fresh-starting five schools unrelated to the rezoning plan as a result of troubled academic histories at those schools, and teachers at all those schools will receive 5 percent pay increases.
The reconvened task force spent hours Thursday discussing the demographic impact of the plan on school populations, as well as updates to school district facilities that have occurred over the last school year.
Large numbers of students have chosen to continue riding buses to schools outside their neighborhoods. For example, about half the students who had the option of choosing to be bussed to Bellevue’s Hillwood Comprehensive High, rather than attending the neighborhood option of Pearl-Cohn Business Magnet, chose Hillwood. Most of those students are black and economically disadvantaged.
Some task force members described the demographic impact on schools — particularly those in the Pearl-Cohn and Hillwood clusters — as minimal. Click attachement below to view the complete data, including the projected impact on individual schools.
A small group of rezoning opponents gathered prior to the meeting and listened to task force members as they discussed the plan, but most trickled out as the three-hour meeting went on.
Attendee Betty Nixon, a member of the local chapter of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said the capacity language used at the meeting was confusing.
“There was a lot of confusion for me, as a pretty educated listener,” Nixon said. “There will be hundreds of students whose experience will be much less diverse than it was under the old zoning system.”
The task force will reconvene again in November. Terms of the original plan stipulate that the group will meet twice each school year.
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