Alabama Senate passes education budget, teacher pay raise

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The Alabama Senate passed Wednesday evening the Education Trust Fund budget, funding education in the state, as well as the first pay raise for teachers in several years.

In the largest education budget from the state since 2008’s financial crash which sent the state’s budgets careening, the $6.3 billion expenditure funds everything from K-12 public classrooms to the implementation of new educational technology.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh commended Sen. Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, for his work in shepherding the legislation through the upper house, but said the state still has a long way to go in improving education.

“Alabama is still 46th and 50th in reading and math, respectively, and only 16% of our high school graduates are college ready according to American College Testing (ACT),” Marsh said in a press release.

“Education affects every part of this state and I cannot look of these numbers and accept the status quo. I am still committed to reforming our education system until there is noticeable improvement and all children are able to receive a high quality education. I look forward to working with those in the education community who share my concerns on new and innovative reforms for next year,” said Marsh.

A separate bill will give 4 percent pay increases to teachers, educational staff, and administrators making less than $75,000 annually, as well as a 4 percent raise to all principals and assistant principals, and a 2 percent raise to other teachers and staff making above that amount.

“They have not received a true pay raise since 2008,” said Orr. “Here we are looking at the 2017 budget. In education and most businesses, you have to attract good people, and the way to attract good people is how you compensate them. We need to compensate people in education accordingly to get the best that we can.”

Though the original bill has already passed the House, it will likely be sent to a conference committee to reconcile small changes made during passage in the Senate.

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