Pay raise for Alabama teachers may be on the way

WAAY 31 talked to local teachers to see what they think of a proposal to increase teachers' pay next year. They all said it is necessary.

Posted: Feb. 12, 2019 5:54 PM
Updated: Feb. 12, 2019 6:48 PM

Teachers in Alabama might get a pay raise next year and teachers say it's about time.

Alabama ranks 41 in the nation according to a 2018 analysis by Asbury Park Press. The average salary is a little more than $48,000, but the value of their salaries has been eroding, making it worth less than a decade ago.

WAAY 31 spoke to some current and former teachers and they said they've had to use their personal money to fund activities in the classroom. It's a sacrifice they said they shouldn't have to make.

"Sometimes for the extra things that I want the kids to have, I put a good bit of my own money back into my classroom. It's hard to do because you take money out of your own house for your own children," said Decatur teacher Amy Hill.

"Teachers still take money out of their pocket to subsidize children's needs," said former Madison County teacher Larry Sharp.

This is the response WAAY 31 received when we asked two teachers how they feel about what they get paid. Retired teacher Larry Sharp said he worked for Madison County Schools for 35 years and he said it was difficult to make ends meet.

"You have to be frugal. You have to look around and say is your career worth seeing your children not have as much as everybody else's children," said Sharp.

He had to make adjustments in his life to make up for the lack of income.

"I've always had two jobs," said Sharp.

Amy Hill, a teacher with Decatur City Schools, also said it's difficult to live off of her salary.

"We really have to plan our expenditures and know what's coming in and not make frivolous purchases and save for things that we really want," said Hill.

Now there is a proposal to raise Alabama teacher salaries next year after there was an increase in money received from taxes last year. Both Hill and Sharp said it's something that needs to happen.

"It's very exciting to think that might happen. It's very exciting," said Hill.

"If we don't pay people, we are not going to get the best and brightest and we need those people working with our children," said Sharp.

State representatives said if the proposal passes, the pay raise percentage will depend on each person's salary and the money will go to public school teachers. The primary source of education funding for Alabama is property tax and sales tax collections. The state said both were up last year.

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