• 72°

Bice proposing 5 percent pay hike for teachers

Teachers across the state may soon have a little more jingle in their pockets.

The Alabama State Board of Education wants to increase the pay for all teachers in the state. The board is talking about a 5 percent raise for teachers, across the board, which would go into effect in fiscal year 2017.

State Superintendent Dr. Tommy Bice said the pay increase is needed to meet the rising cost of living.

“If you think about it, our greatest investment in public education is in our people. We’re asking more of our people than we have asked in a long time, and if you take that into an economic perspective, we are doing it at a time where we are compensating them less,” Bice said.

Bice said the increase is also needed to help attract and retain teachers.

According to Bice, there has been a 45 percent decline in the number of Alabamians choosing education as a profession.

Butler County Superintendent Amy Bryan said the last pay raise teachers received was in 2007 and roughly covered the increased cost for insurance premiums.

“I think Dr. Bice is asking the state board, and then legislature, to support a 5 percent raise for two main reasons. First, all professionals’ wages should increase with cost of living. Second, we are facing teacher shortages that will likely become more critical if compensation isn’t improved.

“I understand that today’s educators already won’t have the same benefits that I did. They will have to work until the age of retirement instead of a set number of years and they won’t have as high a percentage of their ending salary for retirement income.  Add to that the fact that other states pay higher salaries and even bonuses and you can see why Alabama is facing the teacher shortage.”

Bryan said she feels sure that the budget will support the increase in pay for teachers.

“Dr. Bice and others must feel confident that the funding will be there in 2017 for the proposed raise or they wouldn’t have proposed it,” she said. “They have been very realistic in what they’ve asked for and have made compromises knowing that funding is limited.”

The Alabama Legislature must approve the proposed raise.