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February 27, 2024 6:02 pm

Local News

GA Proposes Teacher Pay Hikes; Educators Say More Work Needed

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Shanteya Hudson

Georgia’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget could bring a $2,000 salary boost for teachers, addressing the alarming educator shortage.

Educators say low wages, scarce mental-health resources for students, and a challenging work environment contribute to high turnover and retention issues in the state.

Claire Suggs, senior education policy analyst with the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, underlined the challenges.

“We have shortages in special education, in math and in science, but a lot of our rural school districts have struggled for a long time across fields,” Suggs explained. “It’s just harder for these small communities to attract and keep educators.”

In 2021, Georgia’s new teachers earned roughly $27,000 annually, with seasoned educators reaching $54,000 after 35 years, according to the Southern Regional Education Board. The budget seeks to address the challenges educators face in repaying student loans and the need for competitive wages, building on a recent $5,000 pay hike.

The increase also aims to lower turnover and attract skilled teachers to public schools. Nevertheless, Suggs emphasized the salary growth is just a piece of a more comprehensive solution.

“We just need to think about the working conditions of teachers and all the folks in schools serving students and how we support them and continue to provide pathways for them to thrive as professionals,” Suggs urged.

Ultimately, the proposed teacher pay raise, combined with other efforts including a bill allowing retired teachers to come back to the classroom, signifies a focus on expanding the educator workforce. The decision now rests with lawmakers in the state Senate, where the budget could undergo more changes.

This story was written by Shanteya Hudson, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.