Hamilton County school officials look to solve wage compression caused by recent pay increases

Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Karin Hawkins, school secretary at Normal Park Museum Magnet Upper School, speaks about the inequality of pay among different types of jobs in the system. The meeting took place Thursday at the Hamilton County Schools central office meeting room on the Hickory Valley Road campus.

This summer, Hamilton County teachers received a 3% raise, and the minimum wage for classified employees in the school district -- those who are paid hourly -- was raised to $15 an hour.

Though the pay increase will likely attract fresh talent during a national teacher and worker shortage -- or at least that's the hope -- it has also caused wage compression issues for classified employees who have worked at Hamilton County Schools for years.

Wage compression occurs when organizations make adjustments to salary or pay to recruit new workers but don't offer market adjustments to longtime employees. This creates a situation in which new employees are making the same amount as someone with more knowledge and experience at the organization.

Karin Hawkins, secretary at Normal Park Museum Magnet Upper School, said she's worked at the district for 15 years.