Is governor misrepresenting that 3 percent teacher raise?

Gov. Nathan Deal criticized school districts that failed to apply additional state funding this year to 3 percent across-the-board raises for teachers. But was a raise possible in every district, even those still using furlough days to make ends meet?

School districts were given 3 percent more money for personnel, and most were expected to pass along the money in the form of raises. However, some districts, particularly in rural Georgia, used the extra money to fill gaps in local budgets, end furloughs or lengthen school years that were cut during the recession. Rural districts have long complained they lack the resources of metro systems and have been hit much harder by the ongoing state budget cuts. Many cut days from their school calendars after state funding fell dramatically.

Bryan Stephens, an educator writing in the AJC Get Schooled blog today explains, “Some school districts still have furloughs in place to balance their budgets, so there is no way they could afford to give employees a 3 percent raise, which would have been in place for future years. Giving a 3 percent across-the-board raise would have significant implications on other areas such as the Teacher Retirement System contributions for local school districts. The state did not change the teacher salary scale to ensure this would be fully funded. A neighboring school district actually had 10 furlough days as recently as the 2015-2016 school year. Last school year, the district where I am now employed was finally able to give back the final five furlough days.”

To read more on this issue, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog

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