Gov. Nathan Deal to offer raises to teachers, delay a “reform” agenda

Gov. Nathan Deal will put more money into teacher pay but will delay broad changes recommended by his Education Reform Commission in this legislative session.

Speaking under the Gold Dome at his annual state of the state address Wednesday, Deal committed to funding 3 percent raises for K-12 teachers, with $300 million added to the education budget. Pre-kindergarten teachers would also get raises and “merit” pay increases.

Money will go to school districts, which don’t have to put it into pay, but Deal said if they don’t “it will make it more difficult next year for the state to grant local systems more flexibility in the expenditure of state education dollars,” a recommendation by his Reform Commission.

Deal asked the General Assembly to “conduct a full review” of the commission’s recommendations and said he will create a teacher advisory committee to help. One recommendation is for an overhaul of the decades old funding formula, a vast task that his predecessors have tried and failed to accomplish.

Because of the “magnitude,” Deal said, laws will have to be changed. He can tweak some things on his, and plans to address some of the recommendations, such as changes in the way pre-K teachers are paid, through his budget. But the money for the K-12 teacher pay raises will be distributed under the current formula, he said.