Teachers across the state will feel the impact of the Alabama legislature’s new education budget.
At Athens State University, that impact certainly reverberates.
They send a ton of teachers into the workforce every year.
Athens State Vice-President for Academic Affairs Jackie Smith notes, “Just this last Saturday, we had right at 100 students graduate from the College of Education and Elementary Education is our largest program. We have anywhere from four-to-six-hundred students a year that we graduate in Elementary Education, and we have six majors.”
For the teachers leaving these hallowed halls into state classrooms, Smith say there’s a lot to look forward to, like the state legislature approved a 2% pay raise, “It’s been many years since teachers have had a raise, and 2% sounds small. But it’s a big deal when you haven’t had a raise in a long time.”
Teachers leaving university and getting their first classroom have to make a big investment to get started.
“A lot of teachers in K-12 pay for things out of their own pocket, and so knowing that there’s a 2% raise there and that proration is not in the conversation gives them I think some hope to do what needs to be done in the classroom without worrying about those little things.”
Of course, as with anything that comes from the legislature, the budget is plenty complicated.
But there’s some reason for optimism for educators.
Lawmakers say the budget also pays back $35 million dollars borrowed from the Alabama Trust Fund.
But if that rate of repayment holds, it will take more than a decade to pay back the entire sum.