Saying he wants to keep Georgia’s teachers the “highest-paid in the Southeast,” Gov. Sonny Perdue proposed a 3 percent across-the-board raise for the state’s teachers in his Jan. 10 State of the State address.
His fiscal 2008 budget request, which was also presented to the legislature last week, includes $178 million for the raise and an additional $89.5 million for a 3 percent “step increase,” which means almost half the state’s teachers would receive a 6 percent raise. “I’m here to tell you that my priorities have not changed,” Gov. Perdue said in his speech. “Education is the single most important factor in the future prosperity of our state.”
Following up on a bold initiative he introduced last year—his “graduation coach” program in the state’s high schools—the governor, a Republican, also called for $21.3 million to add coaches in middle schools. (“Graduation Coaches Pursue One Goal,” Nov. 15, 2006.) In addition, he asked for $750,000 to create an online tutoring program open to all students.
“I want this program to be available to students after school and on weekends so they don’t fall behind on issues they may not have understood in class,” Mr. Perdue said.
Other items included in the proposed budget are $2.5 million to help students pay for college-entrance exams, $417 million in bonds for school construction, $3.5 million to make more Advanced Placement courses available and to give students a chance to take the Preliminary SAT, and $152.5 million in the state’s funding formula to accommodate enrollment growth. In all, Gov. Perdue is seeking $7.8 billion for precollegiate education, an increase of 7.5 percent, in an overall state budget of $18.3 billion.
Read a complete transcript of Gov. Sonny Perdue’s 2007 State of the State Address. Posted by Georgia’s Office of the Governor.
A version of this article appeared in the January 17, 2007 edition of Education Week