- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Alabama senator Del Marsh says legislature is considering a raise for education employees with a performance-based model for teachers.

Marsh said the amount of the raise has yet to be determined, but there is an emerging consensus that education employees should receive a raise, the Dothan Eagle (https://bit.ly/1RZxHii) reported. The last time Alabama teachers got a raise was in 2013, the same year their contributions to retirement increased.

“Cost of living is inching up,” Dothan City School Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter said. “Our teachers are going backward by staying in the same place.”

Educator salaries are a cause for concern among education advocates in Alabama, who reason that stagnant pay will be a turn-off to people seeking a career in education.

The average pay for a teacher in Alabama is $48,720, while the national average is $56,610. The starting salary for teachers in Alabama is $36,867.

Single educators contribute $15 per month for health insurance, while the family rate is $177 per month and the family plus spouse rate is $202 per month.

Teachers receive step increases about every three years, until they reach their 27th year of service.

Melissa Bailey, a teacher at Highlands Elementary School, said she believes a lack of wage growth will deter people from pursuing a career in education.

“It’s hard for me to encourage people to go into education considering the amount it costs to go to college,” she said. “You don’t do it for the money, but not receiving a raise makes you feel unappreciated.”

For every one percent educator salaries are increased, it costs the state between $35 million to $40 million. Salary increases don’t just cost the state money. Many systems hire more teachers than their allotted state funding by using local tax revenues to fund the positions.

When educators get a raise, these teachers get one too and the money must be found to fund these salary increases.

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