• How Wilson County teachers stack up on pay

    By Jared Felkins -

    When Wilson County Board of Education member Tom Sottek proposed a 12.5-percent pay raise for teachers in May, it sent shockwaves throughout the county. 

    “When you look at where teacher average pay is, we’re nearly are throwing out there is a 97-percent teacher retention rate. If they have that, how in the world would we fund teacher raises when there is so much overcrowding in Mt. Juliet and a new school is needed?”

    Wilson County teachers by comparison…

    Sottek said a 12.5-percent teacher pay increase would increase the average teacher pay in Wilson County to above the state average. 

    According to the state Department of Education the most recent figures available for the 2016-2017 school year showed the state average at $50,099. Wilson County’s average teacher pay came in at $48,049 and ranked 55thin the state, according to the most recent figures.

    By comparison, Lebanon Special School District’s average teacher salary was $52,836 and ranked 16thin the state. Murfreesboro City Schools came in at 19thwith $52,562, Davidson County was 22ndwith $51,855, Williamson County was 26thwith $51,295, Rutherford County was 31stwith $50,559 and Sumner was 68thwith $46,988.

    When directors of schools’ salaries are compared, however, Wilson County Schools ranked much higher. Wilson County came in at 18thon the list at $165,000, which is just more than $45,000 higher than the state average. Davidson County topped the list at $337,000, Williamson County was third at $260,000, Sumner County was sixth at $191,646, Rutherford County was 21stat $149,248, Lebanon Special School District was 27that $141,755 and Murfreesboro was 57that $117,832. 

    When former Director of Schools Mike Davis resigned in December 2012, he was paid just more than $125,000 annually. Former Director of Schools Tim Setterlund negotiated a $165,000 annual salary when he was hired in May 2013. Setterlund parted ways with Wilson County Schools in January 2014. In December 2013, deputy directors of academics, talent management and student services with a salary of $120,000 each were added to the existing deputy director of finance. A deputy director in special education was added to the proposed budget for next year with a median $85,000 salary. 

    Wright was hired in May 2014, and her starting annual pay was $155,000 plus incentives. Wright’s current salary is $175,000. 

    Among principal salaries, Wilson County was also higher than the state average by about $4,000 at $90,542, which ranked 27thin the state. Williamson County topped the list at $112,518, Davidson County was ninth at $103,445, Lebanon Special School District was 21stat $92,217, followed by Rutherford County at $91,962, Murfreesboro was 33rdat $88,215 and Sumner County was 35that $85,660. 

    Wilson County assistant principals earn about $80,000 annually. 

    But teacher salaries alone paint only part of the picture. Wilson County Schools budgets about $65,000 per teacher, which accounts for health insurance premiums and potential incentive pay increases. Wilson County Schools offers its own health insurance policy to teachers and other full-time employees and pays the individual premium, which comes to $6,615 per year. When added to the average salary, that increases the total teacher package to $54,664. Other expenses such as Medicare, Social Security, life insurance, etc. make up the difference. The addition of a spouse and/or children effectively doubles the premium, and teachers who opt in for family coverage have to pay $6,615 out of pocket each year, which comes to about $551 per month on a 12-month pay period, but most teachers are on a 200-day contract. 

    By comparison, Lebanon Special School District pays $5,982 in health insurance premiums for its teachers, which increases its total teacher package to $59,436. But LSSD also requires teachers to pay about $894 annually in annual health insurance premiums, which takes its total package to $58,542. Rutherford County pays $9,636 for insurance, which increases its total teacher package to $60,438, but individual health insurance costs employees $1,070, so the total package goes to $59,368. Williamson County pays $9,500 for insurance, which increases its total package to $60,849 with no out of pocket for teachers. Davidson County’s net individual coverage brings its average total teacher package to $56,362. Sumner County’s net individual coverage brings its average total teacher package to $52,507. 

    The Lebanon Special School District approved a 2-percent raise across the board Thursday, which has happened each year since 1988. The additional pay does not include step raises, step raises for advanced degree holders or longevity pay for employees who have worked for the district for 21 years or more.

    Lebanon schools hired 20 new teachers and added three new teaching positions with two new positions to be determined. It also added an additional nurse and raised coaching supplements.

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