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Alabama lawmakers gave final approval to a record $ 8.3 billion education budget Wednesday, an increase of 7% or $ 589 million over the current year’s budget.
With record revenues, much of the new spending for K-12 schools will be put into historic pay raises for teachers and improving instruction in the early grades.
Under the new budget which starts Oct. 1, teachers with less than nine years of experience will see a 4% increase in pay, and teachers with nine years or more will see pay raises of 5% to 21%, with higher percentages for those with more years of experience. It will be the fourth pay raise teachers have received in the past five years.
In addition to approving teacher pay raises, lawmakers expanded the statewide minimum salary schedule, guaranteeing teachers a 1% increase in pay for each additional year they work beyond nine.
Read more: Alabama lawmakers approve teacher retirement benefit changes
The budget shows big investments in reading and math, and funds the start of the Numeracy Act, a math initiative focused on kindergarten through fifth grade.
Here’s a look at those investments:
- $ 94 million for the Alabama Reading Initiative, up $ 14 million over the current year,
- $ 15 million for the Alabama Numeracy Act,
- $ 48.3 million for the Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative, up $ 18 million over the current year,
The K-12 Foundation Program, which provides state funding to school districts based on enrollment, will receive $ 4.2 billion, a $ 222 million increase over last year.
Beyond the Foundation Program, line items increases for K-12 schools include:
- $ 49.6 million for school nurses, up $ 8.9 million over the current year,
- $ 10.5 million for cybersecurity, up $ 6.9 million over the current year,
- $ 80 million for the math and science teacher salary program, up $ 30 million over the current year, and
- $ 27.1 million to provide funding for schools with higher numbers of students over the previous year.
Two other bills are considered a part of the budget package, HB138 and HB267, and allocate more than $ 1.5 billion between the two.
The first bill, HB138, allocates $ 1.3 billion from the ETF to be used during the current year. Of that, $ 750 million went to a fund for technology and capital projects for K-12 and higher education to be allocated during the next legislative session. The remainder was split among lots of areas, including:
- A one-time bonus for retired public education employees: $ 58.4 million,
- The final payment for the PACT program, ending the state’s bond under the prepaid college tuition program: $ 177 million,
- Higher education projects: $ 83 million,
- The Alabama Innovation Fund: $ 60 million,
- $ 118 million was moved into the Budget Stabilization Fund, which serves as a rainy day account in tough financial times.
A second bill, HB267, allocates $ 282 million from the Advancement and Technology Fund that can be spent during the current budget year. Higher education received $ 76 million. The $ 206 million for K-12 schools is divided among school districts and public charter schools based on enrollment.
Money from the ATF can be spent on technology, capital improvements, repairs and maintenance, transportation and school security.
Lawmakers last week approved a $ 2.74 billion General Fund budget, the largest in Alabama history, 2% more than this year. The General Fund is the main source of state money for non-education state programs, including prisons, Medicaid, mental health, law enforcement, and others.
More on 2022 legislative session:
Legislature approves school grant program for feminine hygiene products to address ‘period poverty’
Sponsors say Alabama lottery, gambling bills probably dead this session
Alabama Senate committee approves transgender bathroom bans, ‘divisive concepts’ legislation