Haslam’s State of the State calls for more K-12 education funding, including $104.6 million for teacher salaries

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In his State of the State address, Gov. Bill Haslam proposed the biggest investment in K-12 education in Tennessee's history, without a tax increase.

"Think about the teachers who continually rise to the challenges their students might bring through the door everyday," Haslam said.

Haslam proposed $261 million more for K-12, including about $105 million for teacher salaries.

The budget must be approved by the state legislature. Then, the funding is given to Local Education Agencies (LEA) to administer. In Shelby County, that is the Shelby County School Board.

Memphis Shelby County Education Association President Patricia Scarborough said she is pleased with what the governor had to say about education funding. MSCEA represents teachers.

Scarborough told WREG she wants to see how the school board handles the money from that increase.

"We are just waiting to see if when the district receives the funding, how much will the teachers receive, will we receive, the 5.6 increase in salary," Scarborough said.

Haslam proposed $261 million more for K-12, including about $105 million for teacher salaries.

Shelby County School Board Member Chris Caldwell called Haslam's education announcements "a step in the right direction," though the district is currently suing the state over a lack of adequate funding.

"Of course, we approve the budgets. So, there will be a back and forth, and we'll determine where the best investment is and try to keep any cuts that we have out of the classroom," Caldwell said.

Caldwell said that, typically, the administration makes recommendations in the budget process, and the board considers them.

The governor also proposed paying for a 12th month of health insurance for teachers. Currently, the school district has to cover that cost.

Haslam's speech announced more education news, like investing $9 million to hire literacy coaches and coordinators to improve reading across the state.

"I personally believe that investing in education is the smartest thing we can do for economic development, but I also believe it's a smart long term investment," Haslam said.

"We're just excited and hoping that our teachers receive the salary increase that is due to them," Scarborough said.

In terms of K-12 funding, between the $261 million in new dollars and the current fiscal year's amount, that is about $414 million for schools.

The state legislature will likely vote on the budget in April.

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