It’s that time of year again! The 2021 Alabama Legislative Session starts on February 2, and important budgetary decisions will be made for Alabama’s schools. We will be updating this page throughout the session as the Education Trust Fund budget moves through both chambers of the Legislature.
Tuesday, January 29
On Tuesday, January 26, 2021, prior to the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the Alabama Senate and House of Representatives held a joint education budget hearing to allow state education leaders the opportunity to share priorities for the FY 2021-2022 Education Trust Fund budget. Both Dr. Eric Mackey, State Superintendent, and Dr. Barbara Cooper, Secretary of the Department of Early Childhood Education presented. The following priorities were discussed:
- $100 million for a Teacher Stabilization Proposal, which would account for the decline in student enrollment of approximately 9,700 students in the 2020-2021 school year due to COVID-19. Since school districts receive state funding based on the amount of students enrolled in their schools, this one-time funding would provide additional dollars to districts impacted by this decline in enrollment. This allocation will not negatively impact districts that saw increases in student enrollment; these districts will receive an increase based on enrollment. This would save several hundred teacher jobs according to Dr. Mackey at the hearing.
- To support continued implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act: $36 million increase ($54 million total request). This is in addition to the $60 million the state currently spends on local reading coaches.
- $8.2 million for science of reading (LETRS) training. 12,000 educators have been enrolled so far.
- $7.85 million for before/after school tutoring for K-3 reading. This increase can be combined with federal funds available to districts.
- $36 million for summer reading camps for grades K-3 to help students who are struggling to read catch up prior to moving to the next grade.
- $2 million for ELL Specialists to provide regional support for English Language Learners.
- $400,000 towards a stipend program for Certified Academic Therapists (CALT). These specially trained therapists work with dyslexic and other struggling students.
- $8.5 million increase for math coaches to improve math achievement. The department is also allocating $3 million in federal CARES Act funds to support teacher training on the new Math Course of Study.
- $2.2 million increase for Mental Health Coordinators with the goal to provide every district in the state with at least 1 coordinator on staff.
- $26 million increase for school nurses to allow districts to hire more nurses to address health needs amid COVID-19 and beyond
- Teacher Pay Raise: On January 29, Governor Ivey announced that she is is proposing a 2% cost of living pay raise for teachers in the next budget year. The Legislature is also exploring targeted pay raises to attract more STEM teachers amid Alabama’s teacher shortage.
First Class Pre-K:
- $24.4 million increase for the First Class Pre-K program that would address the 3,000 students on the waiting list and increase classroom capacity so that 44% of state’s 4-year-olds will have access to the program. Currently, 37% of 4-year-olds are served.
The next step in this process is for Governor Ivey to release her proposed budget to the Legislature which outlines her budgetary priorities. This historically happens on the second day of the session.
As always, we will update you with more information as it comes available. Follow along with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. We will also continue sending our weekly education news round-up, The Gist, every Friday morning with updates from the previous week. Click here to sign up.