Alabama Gov. Bob Riley announced plans for a 4 percent pay raise for teachers—their first since 2002—and a few new education initiatives, including a $10 million distance-learning program, in his State of the State Address last week.
“Ladies and gentlemen: There can be no greater investment in Alabama’s future than an investment in education,” the Republican governor told legislators during the televised address on Feb. 2.
But the state teachers’ union said it would fight for bigger salary increases. Given robust growth in the state’s Education Trust Fund—the main source of K-12 aid—the union is calling for a 7 percent pay hike for teachers.
Overall, the governor requested nearly $3.5 billion for K-12 programs under the trust fund budget for fiscal 2006, up $330 million from the previous year, or about 10 percent. The fund derives revenue mostly from sales and income taxes.
Read a transcript of the governor’s address.
The distance-learning program “will revolutionize the way we teach our children in Alabama forever,” Gov. Riley said. “Just think about it: A kid in rural Clay County or Wilcox County will have the opportunity to take advanced physics, calculus, or even Chinese.”
He proposed $725,000 to pay bonuses to teachers who volunteer to teach in schools and subject areas with shortages. Mr. Riley also said he was launching a teacher-quality commission “to recommend ways we can better support teachers, retain them in schools with the greatest needs, and reward them for results.”
He wants to increase the state reading program’s budget from $40 million to $56 million, and to give a big boost to the math, science, and technology fund, from just $238,000 to $15 million.
A version of this article appeared in the February 09, 2005 edition of Education Week