Deal’s education commission considers pre-K teacher pay

Teachers of Georgia’s youngest students might get more money for advanced college degrees while those in regular K-12 schools might not, according to ongoing discussions in Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission.

Subcommittees studying topics from teacher pay and retention to student choice and charter schools reported their progress to the full commission on Wednesday. Many, including the crucial funding committee, have reached no conclusions, but the group studying early childhood education had solid recommendations. They recommended tying pay to the level of college attained and to the amount of job experience. Pre-K teachers with a bachelor’s degree would get a $1,200 bump under the recommendation, with their annual pay rising to $26,000, while teachers with a master’s degree would earn a base amount of $38,400.

Meanwhile, the group studying what is arguably the most important topic — state educational funding — has discussed removing the long-existing requirement that school districts pay K-12 teachers more if they hold advanced degrees. The group made no formal recommendation about that or anything else Wednesday, but commission chairman Charles Knapp said specifics should start to emerge next week. That’s when the funding subcommittee will consider new ways to channel state money to school districts.

Currently, districts earn money based on a complicated formula that requires their compliance with state-established rules for everything from salary scales to attendance calendars. Deal has said he wants to simplify the formula so that districts get a set amount of money per student, with the flexibility to spend it as they see fit, Knapp said.

The commission members have been meeting since winter with a deadline by next winter for most. But the funding subcommittee has a July deadline to give Deal time to incorporate the proposals into his next budget.

Knapp warned that the funding formula that begins to emerge next week will likely produce winners and losers, with some districts getting proportionately more, or less, money than they do today.

“We’re getting into the real important stage where we’re going to be talking about specific numbers and specific allocations,” he said.

By Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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