The Georgia House expects to take up the FY 2020 budget Thursday, and right now, it looks like teachers may get a little less than the promised $3,000 pay raises because of an expansion of the definition of a teacher.
“We all thought that every single person that touched the life of a child would be receiving a raise,” said Charlotte Booker, president of the Georgia Association of Educators. “The teachers that work in the library. The teachers that are special education. The teachers that teach gym.”
While educators in the classroom get the most attention, there are a host of others considered vital to the academic success of a child.
School employees without the “teacher title” spoke before the House appropriations committee to explain why they deserve the raise, too.
“Even though the role of the school counselor is vastly different from that of a teacher,” said Gail Smith with the Georgia School Counselor Association. “It is similar in that we work together for the common good of our students. One position without the other is not as strong as both working in unison to support our students and their families.”
Gov. Brian Kemp campaigned with the promise of a $5,000 raise for every teacher. After taking office, in his State of the State Address, he pledged $3,000 in the fiscal year 2020 budget as a down payment toward the $5,000.
“We have so many decisions based on tough budget constraints,” said Rep. Kevin Tanner, (R-Dawsonville) during the committee hearing.
In the end, the committee approved $27.5 billion including 9,800 other teaching professionals in the budget – trimming the per person amount by $225 to make it $2,775.
“We think a promise made is a promise kept especially when so many people voted for him and wanted to make sure he got in office thinking that there would be an increase to everybody, but it seems like it keeps dwindling down,” Booker said.
During a press conference, the governor addressed the issue by saying he wants to keep Georgia teacher salaries competitive, so they stay on the job.
“We’re still trying to see what the whole house bill looks like, so we’re working through that the process," Kemp said. "We appreciate the commitment to education. I’m certainly committed to fixing the problem with 44 percent of our teachers leaving the system within the first five years."