Gov. Bob Riley is asking the Alabama legislature to support an expansion of his reading, mathematics, and online-learning efforts, along with a $850 million bond that would underwrite construction in each of the state’s 131 districts and a proposed pilot program that would provide bonuses to effective teachers.
“We’ve worked together to set education in Alabama on a new course, and now the results are being noticed nationally,” the second-term Republican said in his March 6 State of the State address. “Now, our job is to keep it on the right track.”
In his budget for the 2007-08 school year, Gov. Riley is proposing a $390 million increase, or 10 percent over the $4 billion K-12 budget for the current school year.
With the increase, Gov. Riley would expand the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative to 614 schools. Under his proposal to increase the program to $33 million from $22 million, it would reach almost half the 730,000 K-12 students in Alabama.
The governor also set a goal that by 2010 all high schools in the state would provide access to Advanced Placement programs through the state department of education’s distance-learning program. Under his budget, an additional 26 schools would be able to take part in the program in the 2007-08 school year, up from 44 this year.
Gov. Riley proposed a 7 percent across-the-board pay raise for teachers. At the same time, he wants to start a five-year experiment with offering bonuses to the most effective teachers in the state. He is proposing money in his fiscal 2008 budget to underwrite the project in up to four districts. “It has never made any sense to me that teaching is the one profession that does not reward superior performance,” Gov. Riley said. “Good teachers aren’t threatened by performance pay. They welcome it because they know great teachers should be paid more.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 14, 2007 edition of Education Week