District 43 Representative John Mark Windle said he wanted support staff raises to be included in the package of bills passed Friday.
After a four day special called session, the Tennessee General Assembly approved $160 million of legislation targeted at student learning. Included in that was an eventual 4 percent teacher raise. Windle said while he is pleased, it is only fair to include all employees.
“My preference would have been to give everybody a pay raise,” Windle said. “And certainly, the teachers deserve a pay raise, because they have endured certain hardships during this session, but I would have preferred that people who actually clean the floors, drive our children to school and provide assistance to our teachers in the schools also receive a pay raise.”
A decision on on how standardized will be handled was also made. Windle said students will be required to take year end state exams. However, results will not have consequences.
“It will be used as a diagnostic tool only,” Windle said. “But, it will not be used to penalize school systems, the students or the teachers.”
While BEP funding was not addressed during the special session, Windle said he expects some sort of hold harmless legislation to be included in the general session.
“I anticipate that Governor Lee and the General Assembly will not penalize local school systems,” Windle said. “Let’s say Jackson County for example. Jackson County should receive at least the same amount of money they received in 2019 for the school year in 2021, because we have had a loss of students for several reasons.”
Also included in the package was a new phonics-based reading program to boast literacy rates and funding for tutoring and summer programs to fill student learning gaps.