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Rysewyk: Steadily boosting teacher pay, expanding teacher diversity among strategies going forward

The school board Tuesday agreed in a 7-2 vote to pick Dr. Jon Rysewyk to be the next superintendent.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox County Schools' new incoming superintendent ticks off a lot he hopes to accomplish when he takes over this summer.

Continuing to boost teacher pay and to broaden the racial representation of the teaching ranks are two key goals, he told WBIR's "Inside Tennessee".

The program airs at 9:30 a.m. Sunday on Channel 10.

Rysewyk said Knox County consistently has ranked fifth among the "big five" school systems in Tennessee for teacher pay. KCS was 32nd out of more than 140 systems statewide in teacher compensation in a recent survey, he said.

Locally, Maryville teachers average $63,000 a year while KCS teachers average $56,000, his figures show.

It's a point Rysewyk made during his pitch for the job this month to the Knox County Board of Education.

"We have to pay teachers what they're worth -- which is a lot of money," he said in a remote interview with WBIR anchor John Becker and panelists Susan Richardson Williams and Don Bosch.

"They're the ones who do the work every day and really care for our students."

Rysewyk credited departing Superintendent Bob Thomas for pushing to boost teacher salaries. When he takes over this summer, Rysewyk said he plans to do the same.

He also said he was committed to finding ways to improve the ratio of minority teachers in the county's more than 80 schools. The current split is about 17% Black students with a teaching force that's less than 3% Black.

Similar wide disparities exist when it comes to Hispanic teachers compared with the number of Hispanic students.

KCS has to figure out "alternative pathways" to recruit and certify more teachers, including more minority teachers, he said.

Today a school system can't just post job openings and expect that job seekers will fill them. KCS has to reach out more and recruit, he said.

You can see Rysewyk's full interview with WBIR this Sunday morning.    

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