Alabama lawmakers have passed a $8.8bn education budget and a $2.8bn supplemental allocation, which will be distributed during the current budget year. The education budget will send K-12 education $6bn, a $363m or 4.4% increase. The budget will fund 2% pay increases for K-12 teachers, a minimum pay scale for school support staff, and a $1,000 bonus for special education teachers. It will also fund 100 additional teachers in the middle grades and big pay raises for school nurses. Alabama’s colleges and universities will see increases ranging from 6% to 11%. Alabama’s three statewide K-12 specialty schools will receive between a 5% and 10% increase in funding.
Citing AL.com, Alabama lawmakers have approved a historic $8.8 billion education budget and a $2.8 billion supplemental allocation. The education budget for fiscal year 2024 is $537 million, or 6.5%, higher than the current budget, while the supplemental appropriation is more than twice last year’s $1.3 billion.
The K-12 education sector will receive $6 billion, a $363 million or 4.4% increase, while higher education will receive $2.3 billion, a $140 million or 1.7% increase. Spending on other education-related items in the education budget increased by $34 million, less than half a percent, to $552 million.
The budget will fund several initiatives, including 2% pay increases for K-12 teachers, a minimum pay scale for school support staff, and a $1,000 bonus for special education teachers. It will also fund 100 additional teachers in the middle grades and big pay raises for school nurses. Lawmakers have put an additional $50 million into math and science initiatives and an additional $30 million into child care and after school res.
Alabama’s three statewide K-12 specialty schools will receive between a 5% and 10% increase in funding. However, a plan to build a fourth K-12 specialty school in Demopolis focused on healthcare professions was scrapped by lawmakers.
Alabama’s colleges and universities will see increases ranging from 6% to 11%. While the House and Senate versions of the budget didn’t differ much, the two chambers had different priorities for the supplemental bill.
Lawmakers stressed the need to use the historic $2.8 billion surplus for one-time expenditures like capital costs rather than recurring expenditures like adding employees or giving raises. The Senate focused on stashing half a billion dollars in a new savings account and funding a capital grant program for K-12 schools while lowering promised tax rebates. The House wanted more for tax rebates, less on the grant program and less in savings.
The differences were rectified by a conference committee, with lawmakers deciding to spend $393 million on tax rebates and put $344 million into a newly created savings account, the Educational Opportunities Reserve Fund. They will give $360 million to K-12 schools to help with soaring construction costs and put $180 million toward a grant program for K-12 schools.
To put the finishing touches on, this historic education budget and supplemental allocation will provide much-needed support to Alabama’s education sector. With increased funding for K-12 and higher education, pay raises for teachers and school support staff, and investments in math and science initiatives, child care, and after school res, Alabama’s students are poised to benefit greatly from these new investments.