Experienced Alabama teachers could get double-digit raises under advanced legislature plan

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Alabama legislators today put forward a plan to increase the salaries of experienced teachers in public schools by 10% to 20%, driving a greater effort to attract more to the profession and retain experienced teachers in the classroom. .

The plan also calls for automatic annual pay increases of 1% for teachers with nine years or more on the job and adds annual pay increments based on experience for teachers with 27 years or more on the job, fixing what officials say is a flaw. in the state salary was plan.

The Senate Education Committee on Finance and Taxation today approved the legislation, which was an extension of an earlier plan to give most educators a 4% pay increase. The increases would go into effect on October 1.

Under the new plan, teachers with less than nine years of experience would still receive the 4% increase. But those with more experience get bigger percentage increases:

  • Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 15 years of experience would receive a 7.2% increase to $54,438.
  • Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 20 years of experience would receive a 10.4% increase, to $57,214.
  • Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 25 years of experience would receive an 11.6% increase to $60,133.
  • Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 30 years of experience would receive a 14.9% increase, to $63,200.
  • Teachers with a bachelor’s degree and 35 years of experience would receive a 20.8% increase to $66,424.

The salaries come from the state pay plan, which does not include additional pay provided to teachers by many local school systems.

State Superintendent Eric Mackey strongly endorsed the proposed raises and additional salary increments to 35 years of experience.

“This is a huge incentive to keep people in the classroom,” said head of state Eric Mackey. “This is a huge increase that will make a real difference in people’s pensions. It’s a great way to thank our teachers for their service in the classroom. I think teachers will be absolutely thrilled with this. This is a big thank you to our teachers.”

The wage increase legislation is incorporated into Alabama’s education budget plan for its next fiscal year, which begins October 1. In total, the budget calls for $8.26 billion from the Education Trust Fund, Alabama’s largest budget ever and $588 million more than this year.

Today’s committee approval moves the budget and related legislation to the Senate. The House, which previously approved the budget and related bills, will have a chance to review the changes before the legislation can go to Governor Kay Ivey and become law. Officials were optimistic about that.

Related: House considers record Alabama education budget, teacher increases

Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, chairman of the House Education Budget Chair, said he had been in discussions with Senate Budget Chair Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, about the pay increases and supports the new structure.

“It’s important now that we recruit teachers, that we retain teachers, that we are competitive, that we provide the support and make sure we get the quality teachers we need,” Garrett said.

Alabama’s current salary schedule for teachers has salary increments for every three years on the job. But the steps stop after 27 years. The new plan would include salary increments every year from the ninth year and thereafter, instead of every third year, and expand the number of increments to 35 years. Officials said this means teachers are guaranteed at least a 1% annual increase after their ninth year on the job.

Orr said the certainty of an annual increase would be an improvement over Alabama’s standard legislature practice of approving cost-of-living increases in some years but not others. In the past 20 years, the legislature has approved eight times the cost of living, ranging from 2% to 7%.

“They have bills to pay and we need to be much more stable and thoughtful about how we compensate our educators,” Orr said.

Amy Marlowe, executive director of the Alabama Education Association, which represents teachers and educators, said the plan approved by the committee today would address some long-standing flaws in the teacher salary plan. Marlowe said the starting salary for teachers in Alabama is higher than in surrounding states, but Alabama’s pay lags as teachers advance in their careers, making it more difficult to retain them.

The state’s traditional practice for general raises, regardless of experience, has exacerbated the discrepancy, Marlowe said. “It caused it to drop in value in recent years compared to our other surrounding states,” Marlowe said.

Marlowe said it would be a big change to add the wage increments for years 27 through 35 for teachers.

“That one move by the committee this morning will do more to keep the teachers in the classroom than anything else we’ve done in the past five years,” Marlowe said.

Marlowe said the average teacher in Alabama has 11 years of experience and a master’s degree. A teacher who fits that description will receive a pay increase of 7.15%.

As for the more than 20% increases for the most experienced teachers, Marlowe said it would be unprecedented. She did note that in the mid-1980s, the legislature passed 15% increases for two years in a row, during George Wallace’s last term as governor.

Marlowe said the plan approved by the committee today is the result of continued push to fix errors in the teacher payment plan.

“I think over the last few years we’ve made a very genuine two-pronged effort, especially as we entered the pandemic, to do everything the legislature could to keep quality teachers in the classroom and then show they are valued for the work they do,” Marlowe said. “This is what they’ve been working towards.”

Trisha Powell Crain of AL.com contributed to this report.

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