TCTA’s Lonnie Hollingsworth testified before the Senate Finance Committee on Monday, Oct. 9, to encourage the committee to increase funding for schools and raise teacher salaries across the board. TCTA’s testimony advocated for a significant salary increase to address the ongoing teacher shortage, noting that relying on the Teacher Incentive Allotment (the state’s merit pay plan) to attract and retain teachers will not address the problem.
Senate Education Committee Chair Brandon Creighton filed Senate Bill 2, the subject of Monday’s hearing. The bill expands the TIA program, but also includes teacher raises of $3,000 or $10,000 (depending on the size of the district) and a slight funding increase for schools beyond the amount needed for the salary bump.
As filed, SB 2 would fully fund an immediate salary bump (as early as December 2023, if feasible) of $10,000 for those in districts with 5,000 or fewer students, or $3,000 for teachers in districts with more than 5,000 students. The increase would be maintained in future years.
The raise applies to employees designated by statute as a classroom teacher — “an educator who is employed by a school district and who, not less than an average of four hours each day, teaches in an academic instructional setting or a career and technology instructional setting. The term does not include a teacher's aide or a full-time administrator.” The bill specifically provides that a person who is not required by law to hold a certificate but who otherwise meets the definition is eligible. The raise would not apply to other professionals who are often included in teacher salary increases, such as librarians, counselors, and school nurses
The committee passed SB 2, which will next move to the Senate floor for consideration. It is likely to pass the Senate this week. The Senate has, thus far, separated the voucher and funding/salaries legislation, though the issues remain politically connected. The voucher bill, SB 1, will be heard in the Senate Education Committee Tuesday, Oct. 10.