Georgia’s State School Superintendent Richard Woods proposes a $3,000 teacher pay raise to improve K-12 education, urging action from Governor Kemp and lawmakers ahead of the budget proposal.
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Atlanta, Georgia – State School Superintendent Richard Woods, in collaboration with 2024 Georgia Teacher of the Year Christy Todd, advocates for a significant pay increase for Georgia’s educators.
They urge Governor Brian Kemp and the state legislature to approve a $3,000 teacher raise in the coming fiscal year.
Investing in Education
In a joint opinion piece, Woods and Todd emphasized the critical role of attracting and retaining top talent in the teaching profession to enhance the quality of K-12 education.
They stated, “The most important thing we can do to improve the quality of K-12 education in our state is to recruit our best and brightest to become teachers – and make it viable for them to stay.”
Budget Implications and Legislative Support
Garrison Douglas, representing Governor Kemp’s office, did not comment on the proposal, indicating that the governor’s budget plans would be unveiled in January.
Woods also highlighted the need for revising the state’s school funding formula to support pupil transportation better and provide additional funds for students living in poverty.
The current funding is often criticized for not covering the full transportation costs and the special needs of impoverished students.
Cost of the Proposed Pay Raise
While the Department of Education has not provided a specific cost estimate for the proposed pay increase, past increases suggest it could be in the $400 million to $500 million range.
The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement indicated that Georgia schools employed nearly 150,000 certified personnel in the 2021-2022 school year.
Election Year and Teacher Support
With 2024 being an election year for the state’s legislative members, the push for teacher pay raises gains additional momentum, as lawmakers may want to secure support from this significant interest group.
State Finances and Other Considerations
Despite a recent slowdown in tax collections, Georgia’s budget remains robust, with last year’s collections exceeding projections.
However, Governor Kemp’s suspension of state fuel taxes and potential continuation of income tax refunds could affect available funds for the raise.
Georgia’s Commitment to Educators
Under Governor Kemp’s administration, teachers have received $7,000 in pay raises since 2018.
Georgia’s average teacher salary leads in the Southeast and ranks 22nd.
Despite this, Woods and Todd are pushing for further improvements, particularly for starting salaries and ensuring consistent annual raises throughout a teacher’s career.
As the state prepares for the new budget year, all eyes are on Governor Kemp’s financial strategy and how it will address the pressing issue of teacher compensation.
With strong advocacy from educational leaders and the strategic timing of the election year, Georgia’s teachers have a significant cause for optimism.