Budget Windfall Used to Raise Pay
The following offers highlights of the recent legislative sessions. Precollegiate enrollment figures are based on fall 2003 data reported by state officials for public elementary and secondary schools. The figures for precollegiate education spending do not include federal flow-through funds, unless noted.
Alabama’s schools and its teachers are reaping the benefits of a budget surplus that grew out of better-than-expected revenues from sales and income taxes.
Spending on K-12 education in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 will increase by 11 percent, to $3.6 billion. The hike includes a 6 percent pay raise for K-12 teachers. Those raises will cost the state $185 million this fiscal year.
Not everybody endorsed the plan, however.
Gov. Bob Riley, a Republican, called the raises unaffordable as he vetoed the education budget in May, instead proposing a 4 percent raise. He also wanted to sock away $54 million in the state’s rainy-day fund to protect against future school aid cuts. The legislature overrode the veto.
Lawmakers were buoyed by news that the Education Trust Fund, which is the state’s main source of K-12 revenue, realized a $562 million surplus in fiscal 2005. Norris Green, the fiscal officer for the Alabama Senate, said about $300 million of that revenue had been expected and was allocated in the new state budget, but added that $265 million remains available for future needs.
In examples of first-time spending, Alabama appropriated $4.6 million to finance technology coordinators in school districts and $10.3 million for a distance-learning initiative.
Spending for teacher professional development was increased from $60 per teacher to $90 per teacher, or from $2.8 million to $4.6 million overall. Spending on textbooks also will rise, from $42.1 million to $49.5 million.
Vol. 25, Issue 08, Page 18