Teacher pay raise affected by budget cuts due to pandemic

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — Earlier this week, a Senate committee approved a general fund budget that dials back spending increases- including pay raises for state employees and teachers.

“The impact for the education and health, those areas have taken a big hit so we are hoping we will have some funding that will be able to boost those areas,” said State Rep. Paul Lee, R-District 86. “We will just have to wait and see.”

The subject of pay is always a hot topic among educators. With parents having to teach at home most are praising teachers for all they do, but any expected pay raises for teachers are questionable as the legislature returns Monday.

“With what I know today, I would not count on any raises for, that come out of the general fund or out of the general fund,” Lee explained.

“Do I feel like teachers deserve a raise?” second-grade teacher Jeneava Mitchell said. “Of course. Only because people do not understand what we do behind the scenes. People see what comes home with their child and they think that we work 7 to 3 every day, but that’s not the case. We work sun up to sundown.”

Lee expects that the raises for state employees, including teachers, most certainly will not happen this year. He said the economy was strong before this, and that the economy will come back strong once everything gets going.

Lee said that if the teacher pay raises don’t happen this year because of the economic downturn, they are not off the table next year.

“I really think that everybody will understand,” he said. “I think that they understand what we’ve been through, they see other people that are struggling and people that have had the type jobs with the state they’re very fortunate that they’ve been able to maintain income.”

While the Alabama state representative hopes teachers will understand the lack of a pay raise, teachers feel a little different about it.

“As far as this situation that is happening, I don’t think that is the reason we deserve a raise,” Mitchell said. “I think we deserve a raise because we are who we are. Teachers are an important part of society, and … the fact that teachers will not get a raise will not change the fact that we are still going to do what we need to do.”

With the Senate committee meeting next week, we will continue to follow up with this subject.

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