Governor Bill Haslam may be backing off his plan to raise teacher salaries by 2 percent this year, but the Knox County teacher's association still wants to see the increase funded locally.
Knox County teachers were looking at a 3 percent raise: 2 percent from the state and a 1 percent proposed increase by the county.
"We are ranked 38th in the state in regards to teacher salary but we are giving out number one results in regards to student achievement," Coats said.
"We're losing highly qualified teachers to Oak Ridge, Maryville, and Blount County, even Sevier County. It's unfortunate that's happening here."
Coats said the 3 percent raise in McIntyre's budget proposal was on the right path. She wants the county to make up for what the state cannot provide. Coats said Knox County Schools would need more than a 5 percent increase to get closer to other large districts.
"It's unfortunate that he [Governor Haslam] did that. But I would hope Knox County would decide to stay on that pace to give teachers this 3 percent raise they intended to give us," she said.
Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre said it's too early for him to weigh in on the state backing out.
"It's a potential, unexpected wrinkle," he said at Monday's Board of Education meeting. "And we'll work through that, and see what the implications are, and continue the conversation that we're having here locally about the importance of this budget."
Last fall, Governor Haslam said he wanted to give Tennessee teachers the biggest raises in the country over the next five years. His initial budget proposal in February included a 2% across the board raise. While he says he has not abandoned that goal, his new budget amendment does not include raises for teachers or state employees. He said lower than expected revenue is to blame.
When asked if the county commission could step in to increase teacher salaries, Chairman Brad Anders said, "We have not seen any numbers yet for the final budget proposal, but there is no projected revenue growth trending in the past few months. We will have to have more analysis of the revenue and discussion about projections during the budget process in regard to pay raises."