Lawmakers propose record pay raises for senior teachers

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama lawmakers on Wednesday advanced record pay raises for experienced public school teachers in an effort to keep educators from leaving classrooms for other states or private sector jobs.

The Senate Finance and Taxation Education Committee voted to raise minimum salaries for teachers with nine or more years experience, resulting in pay increases ranging from 5% to 21% over their current salaries. It would also provide a 1% raise each year — a move which legislators said will provide some stability — and do away with the current salary cap after 27 years’ experience.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the proposal Thursday.

“We’ve got a problem attracting people to get in education and stay in education,” said Committee Chairman Arthur Orr, a Republican from Decatur.

The size of the raise would be based on a teacher’s years of experience.

A teacher with a bachelor’s degree and 20 years of experience would see their salary rise from $51,810 to $57,214. A teacher with a master’s degree and 25 years experience would see their pay rise from $61,987 to $69,151.

“This is truly historic,” Amy Marlowe, executive director of the Alabama Education Association, said.

Marlowe said school systems are seeing a teacher shortage in all subjects and in all grades as educators leave the classroom for retirement or other jobs.

“There has been a mass exodus,” Marlowe said. “As Superintendent (Eric) Mackey said to a group last week, we’re on the cliff right now. We’re looking at shortfalls that we can’t recover from if something is not done. The vote that they took this morning will do more to keep teachers in the classroom than anything else that we’ve done trying to address this problem in the last five years.”

House leaders said they are in agreement with the proposal.

“It’s important right now that we recruit teachers, that we retain teachers and be competitive,” said Rep. Danny Garrett, the chairman of the House budget committee.