Budget Watch: Alabama’s FY 2022 Education Budget

It’s that time of year again! The 2021 Alabama Legislative Session began on February 2, and during the session important budgetary decisions will be made for Alabama’s schools. As mandated by the Alabama Constitution, Governor Kay Ivey outlined her priorities for the session in her State of the State Address on the first evening of the session. You can read our recap of her address here. We will be updating this page throughout the session as the Education Trust Fund budget moves through both chambers of the Legislature.

 


Updated

Tuesday, March 16

Alabama Senate passes FY 2022 Education Trust Fund Budget

On Thursday, March 18, 2021, the full Alabama Senate passed the FY 2022 Education Trust Fund Budget. There were only small changes made on the floor, none of which impacted the items we highlighted on Tuesday. Check out our previous update for all the details. It now moves to the Alabama House of Representatives for consideration. The House Ways and Means Education Committee will meet to discuss the budget following Legislative Spring Break next week.

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.


Updated

Tuesday, March 16

Education Trust Fund budget approved by Senate Finance & Taxation Education Committee, heads to full Senate

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, the Senate Finance and Taxation Education committee met to discuss their proposed budget. The current Senate proposal for the $7.6 billion FY 2022 budget  includes a $455 million increase over the current year budget (about a 6.3% increase). This budget is about $14 million larger than the increase proposed by Governor Ivey at the beginning of the legislative session, and in both cases a welcome alternative to what many feared would be a lean budget year due to the potential economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The full Senate intends to vote on the budget this Thursday, March 18, 2021. With Legislative Spring Break next week, this means the House will not take it up until early April.   

This year’s budget increase proposed by the Senate includes the following priorities (see the full spreadsheet here):

K-12 Education:

  • Teacher Pay Raise: All K-12 education employees would receive a 2% pay raise. For classroom teachers, they are also adjusting the salary matrix to raise pay for more experienced teachers, with pay raises ranging from 2% for newer teachers to 6% to the most experienced teachers. The state has worked to increase starting teacher pay to lead the region over the last several years, so this is an effort to retain teachers. 
  • New Proposed Salary Schedule for STEM Teachers: The Senate is proposing a new, higher salary schedule for math, science, computer science, and other STEM teachers in grades 6-12 to help address the teacher shortage in these subjects. There are 7,500 existing positions with only 4,600 credentialed teachers. Teachers with certain advanced certification could earn $5,000 more than their counterparts on the traditional salary schedule.  Details about the increase can be found in Senate Bill 327, introduced by Senators Chesteen and Orr last week. The bill includes additional increases in pay for those teachers that choose to work in qualifying rural and high-poverty school districts. In this scenario, teachers in hard-to-fill positions at the top end of the proposed salary matrix could earn upwards of $90,000 per year.
  • $1,000 for Classroom Materials & Supplies Allowance, which is up from last year’s $600 allocation per teacher unit. 
  • $95 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 would save several hundred teacher jobs according to Dr. Mackey at the hearing, and would not negatively impact districts that saw increases in enrollment.
  • $2 million increase ($80 million total funding) to support continued implementation of the Alabama Literacy Act and the Alabama Reading Initiative: 
    • This would continue funding science of reading (LETRS) training, regional and local reading specialists/coaches, summer reading camps, ELL coaches, and other supports.
    • This $2 million increase is less than Governor Ivey’s proposed $20 million increase. The Senators stated they expected this gap to be covered by large amounts of federal funding coming to Alabama
    • There is also a new $600,000 line-item for a stipend program for Certified Academic Therapists (CALT). These specially trained therapists work with dyslexic and other struggling students.  
  • 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.

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.


Updated

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: 

K-12 Education:

  • $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.