Tennessee Governor Signs Bill Altering Career Ladder

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Gov. Ned McWherter of Tennessee has signed legislation that revises part of the state's pioneering career ladder for teachers.

The measure, approved by the legislature late last month, separates from the program the state's "extended contract'' allocation, which officials said was being distributed inequitably to school districts.

Under the current system, teachers on the top two levels of the ladder receive bonus pay and the opportunity to extend their work year. The state pays teachers $2,000 for each extra month they work.

Commissioner of Education Charles E. Smith, citing a study of the program requested by the Senate and completed in January, said the extended contracts were going disproportionately to wealthier districts, which typically have more teachers on the top rungs of the ladder. (See Education Week, Feb. 10, 1988.)

Under the revision, districts will be able to apply for extended-contract aid by proposing projects based on the needs of students. Applications will be judged by the commissioner.

The money will be used to offer 11- and 12-month contracts to teachers not on the career ladder. However, teachers at the top two levels of that system will be given the first opportunity to participate in the projects.

In other action, Governor McWherter has signed bills that will:

  • Raise the base starting salary for teachers--now $15,350--to $16,925 in 1989 and $18,500 in 1990.
  • Allow districts to operate day-care programs before and after the school day. Schools will be permitted to charge fees for the service, and teachers can work in the programs to satisfy extended-contract obligations.

The Tennessee legislature is set to adjourn on April 28.

Vol. 07, Issue 30

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