A Wilson County school board member is proposing a 12.5-percent raise for teachers to prevent them from leaving for other districts.

Teachers in Wilson County say their paychecks aren’t enough to support their families.

Zone 3 School Board Member Tom Sottek said his raise proposal would cost $9 million, making Wilson County competitive with surrounding counties and help maintain teachers.

Sottek said the average salary for a Wilson County teacher is $47,250.

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Intervention teacher Emily Morrison works hard to help students who fall behind at Rutland Elementary. She believes in Wilson County Schools so much that she took a pay cut to come here from Williamson County.

“I want to help serve the students who are my neighbors and children of my friends, and to do that I not only took a pay cut but lost out on some opportunities professionally for growth,” Morrison said.

Other teachers, however, talk about leaving the district for better pay, and some already have left.

“They’re giving up a place that they love to work and live because they need the extra funds to make ends meet at home,” Morrison said.

News4's Briona Arradondo obtained 2018-2019 salary information for teachers in Davidson, Williamson and Rutherford counties. A teacher's average salary with a bachelor’s degree earned about $46,690 in Williamson County, $51,609 in Rutherford County and $52,000 in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

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Sottek said those school districts also offer multiple higher levels of compensation for teachers with advanced degrees, while Wilson County Schools only offers one level up of higher compensation for teachers with any other degree higher than a bachelor’s degree.

“Myself, having four children in the system at one point, I want to make sure my friends and those people within our county and community have the education that they feel they deserve,” Sottek said.

Teachers told Sottek even the cost of family healthcare takes too much from their paychecks.

Morrison said many Wilson Co. teachers can’t afford to add their children to the healthcare plan, while other county school districts have benefits packages that help pad salaries for that cost.

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The school board votes on the proposed raise for teachers on Thursday, but the county commission has the final say. Sottek addressed what could happen if the proposed raise doesn't pass the county commission.

“My hope is that there’s an open discussion about what they can do this year and what the plan can be to make sure that we look at fully implementing this raise,” Sottek said, noting that it could take a few years to implement the raise.

Teachers said a raise would make them feel valued for the work they do every day.

“This is home, and this is where we want to be,” Morrison said. “So, we’ve made that choice to stay here.”

Sottek said he believes the county commissioners won’t vote on the budget with the proposed raise until after the county election. He also said it’s important for Wilson County residents to voice their opinions and concerns for the local education system to the school board and county commission.

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