Rumor Mill - March 29, 2022

  • Published March 29, 2022

    I’ve heard that the district is recommending closing the online K-8 school. Why would the district close a school that just opened?

    You are correct. Superintendent Jason Golden plans to recommend closing Discovery K-8 online school at the April 14 Work Session and April 18 Board meeting. District leadership shared this information with the Discovery staff and families on Monday.

    You may remember that when WCS started school this year, the district created Discovery K-8 a year earlier than anticipated because the State was requiring a fully online school rather than an online learning program for the 2021-22 school year. While the school began in the Fall of 2022 with more than 350 students at Discovery, just over 80 students have committed to Discovery for the 2022-23 school year. Those numbers continue to decline with most who are not returning to the online school indicating a return to traditional school. There simply aren’t enough students for a K-8 school to be viable.

    The district’s Human Resources Department will be working with staff members for placements for the upcoming school year, and parents are encouraged to work with Discovery Principal Dr. Kari Miller if they need support or guidance.

    Vanguard Virtual, the district’s online high school, will remain open. There are 140 full-time Vanguard Virtual students enrolled for next year and 4,691 semester seats requested by traditional high school students who will be taking one or more online classes next year. At the high school level, student choice determines the courses and number of sections of courses being taught. In addition, 9-12 online learning is asynchronous, which allows much more flexibility in scheduling teachers in all content areas. Many teachers are choosing to teach some online classes and some traditional in-person classes, which helps ensure we are meeting the needs of this population at the high school level. 

    I appreciate the School Board giving teachers a raise, but I don’t understand why teachers with less experience got more?

    All teachers received a three percent mid-year pay increase, effective February 2022. The pay scale for all teachers was permanently increased rather than just giving a one-time bonus. With this percentage increase, teachers who are higher on the experience scale received a larger pay increase than less experienced teachers.

    For the 2022-23 budget, the County Commission set a two percent pay increase as the standard. The district’s proposed budget reflects that standard, which will take effect July 1.

    Teachers with fewer years of experience make less money. In the many years where a percentage raise has been given, those lower-paid teachers have earned a smaller pay increase. This has created a wide gap throughout the teacher pay scale, creating a need for the district to provide a larger pay increase at the lower pay levels.

    This year’s $40,150 starting pay for WCS teachers was ranked 68th among Tennessee’s 147 school districts, according to the Tennessee Education Association, lowering WCS’ statewide average ranking to 37th for all teacher salaries. In our new proposal, the salary for a first-year teacher will be $45,000, a 12 percent increase over this year’s starting pay. With 57 percent of the new teachers hired this year having 5 or fewer years of experience and 75 percent of the new teachers hired this year having 10 or fewer years of experience, the focus was on increasing those areas.

    The proposed pay increase will, if passed, complete the largest year-to-year teacher pay increase for WCS staff in more than 15 years. All levels on the teacher pay scale will be increasing by no less than 5.9 percent by August 2021 to August 2022.

    The purpose of this section is to answer any questions parents, teachers or community members might have regarding the school district and to set the record straight in regards to any rumors that might be circulating. If you have a question or have heard a rumor that you would like us to address, simply EMAIL US your questions and we will respond to them in upcoming issues of InFocus.