Superintendents: Teacher pay raises will help with shortage

Published 1:01 am Friday, May 31, 2019

Local superintendents say they are hopeful a 4 percent pay increase for teachers and other public school employees approved by the legislature earlier this week will convince more young people to teaching.

The increase would take starting pay for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree to $40,873.

“I am very thankful that the legislature and governor saw it fit to give our current employees that raise,” Covington County Schools Superintendent Shannon Driver said. “They work very hard and put in a lot of hours taking care of our kids so I think that they are definitely deserving of this.

“Looking forward, I am very hopeful that this and some other moves that the legislature and state department are doing will encourage some college students to consider education as a career path. It is definitely what we are hopeful for, so it will ease the teacher shortage. Any time the state does something to enhance the attractiveness of this job it is a good thing.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Poole R-Tuscaloosa said competitive pay is one piece of the solution to try to address a teacher shortage in the state.

“We have a recruitment and retention challenge in Alabama,” Poole said. “It’s not unique to Alabama. It’s a trend across the country,”

The pay raise is part of a record proposed $7 billion education spending plan for the next fiscal year.

Opp City School superintendent Michael Smithart said that the hope is for students to look at teaching as a career now that there is a bump in the pay, but it isn’t all about the money when it comes to teaching.

“I have always thought that teaching is more of a calling,” Smithart said. “I never thought you went into it for the finance side of it. I think the changes that they are making on the state level with regards to pay helps recognize the work that it takes to be a teacher. I think with some of the other changes they’re making like to the retirement system and those type things could help with recruiting more teachers.”

Andalusia City School superintendent Ted Watson could not be reached for comment.