After spending the better part of a decade without seeing an increase in their take-home pay, Alabama teachers are set to receive their first real pay increases since 2008. (A 2013 raise was offset by benefit cuts.)
Under a newly approved education budget, teachers and other K-12 staff with annual salaries less than $75,000 will get 4 percent raises; others will see 2 percent increases. Montgomery lawmakers, concerned that the state was losing good teachers to better-paying states like neighboring Georgia, overwhelmingly passed the increases out of both chambers of the legislature.
“If you are going to attract quality people to education, it is imperative that you compensate them accordingly,” said Arthur Orr, a Republican who is chair of the Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee. “The legislature understands this and that it’s been nine years since educators have seen a true raise. I’m pleased the support was overwhelming.”
As my colleague Daarel Burnette II reported recently, lawmakers in several states facing looming teacher shortages have proposed pay increases to stave off a potential crisis.
In 2014, the average Alabama teacher made just about $49,000, landing them the 35th spot on state rankings of teacher pay. Currently, Alabama teachers’ salaries are capped far below the $75,000 threshold, so every teacher in the state is set to receive a 4 percent raise. The state’s current salary schedule climbs slowly from a minimum of $36,867 for starting teachers to a maximum salary of just over $62,000 for teachers with at least 27 years of teaching experience and a doctorate. Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years in the classroom make just about $42,000.
Under the new legislation, all principals and assistant principals will also receive 4 percent raises regardless of their current salary. Employees of community and technical colleges will also get 4 percent raises. All told the salary increases will cost the state $150 million annually.
South Dakota, another state that has traditionally ranked low on average teacher pay, also recently approved legislation to boost educator salaries.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.