State of the States
School Construction Program Highlighted in Address
• Gov. Bob Riley
Gov. Bob Riley proposed major boosts in education spending in several key areas during his Jan. 10 State of the State Address.
Facilities:One of the most ambitious plans on his agenda is a $500 million school construction program to repair old or damaged schools and to build new ones where enrollment is rising. The money would come from surplus state revenues.
“Very rare is the day I don’t receive a letter from a school superintendent, a teacher, or a parent describing needed repairs at their schools,” he said.
Teacher Pay:In the final year of his first term, the Republican governor also urged lawmakers to support his plan to raise teacher salaries. His proposal would give an additional 2.75 percent to beginning teachers and up to five percent for the most experienced teachers.
In the 2003-04 school year, the average Alabama teacher salary was $38,282, while the national average was $46,597.
“None of the progress we’ve made in education would be possible without our teachers. But they deserve more than our gratitude and our respect,” he said
Also, pointing out that Alabama is one of just three states that does not have a school calendar of at least 180 days, Gov. Riley proposed adding five additional days to the school year, bringing it to 180 days.
The governor’s office released additional school proposals not outlined in his speech, such as providing $5.1 million to reward schools for academic improvement.
Vol. 25, Issue 19, Page 19