In an effort to retain experienced educators in the classroom, Alabama lawmakers authorized the highest teacher pay boost in a generation on Wednesday.
The hikes are part of the education trust fund budget, which received final approval after the Alabama House of Representatives agreed to Senate revisions without dissenting votes. The budget measure will now be signed by Governor Kay Ivey.
Teachers with nine or more years of classroom experience would receive increases ranging from 5% to almost 21% for those with 35 years of expertise. A 4% increase would be given to teachers with fewer than nine years of experience.
Concerns about teacher shortages have been raised in Alabama and around the country, particularly since the coronavirus epidemic has expedited a wave of retirements. As a result, governments are considering salary raises and other incentives to attempt to recruit and retain instructors.
The aim, according to Rep. Danny Garrett, chairman of the House budget-writing committee, is to make public school compensation more competitive for instructors in their mid-career.
“Already, we’ve heard of teachers who are reevaluating their retirement based upon this compensation. We’re actually competing with the private sector for some of these teachers. I think this goes a long way to make it very competitive,” Garrett said.
The minimum compensation for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience would increase from $48,822 to $51,795.
The minimum compensation for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 20 years of experience would increase from $51,810 to $57,214.
The minimum compensation for a teacher with a master’s degree and 25 years of experience would increase from $61,987 to $69,151.
Educators have responded positively, according to Amy Marlowe, executive director of the Alabama Education Association.
“We’ve had so many who have said they are actually going to stay in the classroom who were considering retirement. I think it will go a long way toward the intent of the Legislature of retaining teachers,” Marlowe said.
The budget also includes “much-needed resources in Alabama classrooms,” such as technology coordinators and reading and math coaches, according to her.
In addition, the budget proposal would provide educators an automatic 1% rise each year and eliminate a wage restriction that presently ends step raises after 27 years of service.
Teachers in Alabama last received significant salary hikes in the 1980s, when lawmakers authorized 15 percent raises for two years in a row during George Wallace’s last term as governor.