DECATUR, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed two bills Monday afternoon creating the Teacher Salary Equalization fund. It’ll raise Arkansas’ median teacher salary to almost $52,000. Decatur’s superintendent said it’ll help rural districts keep teachers longer.
“Just as a state in general, I think this is a win for our teachers and students across the state of Arkansas,” said Dr. Steven Watkins, Decatur’s superintendent.
Hutchinson said the move further indicates Arkansas’ commitment to raising teachers’ pay.
“In previous legislative sessions, we raised the minimum salary level for teachers,” Hutchinson said. “This time, we tackled the median salary level.”
Watkins said this’ll likely help rural school districts like his own.
“A lot of times, we struggle with keeping teachers in the district,” Watkins said. “You don’t blame the teacher for that.”
Watkins said he expects some teachers will stay around longer since their pay will be comparable to teachers in more-profitable areas. He said this will have a direct impact on kids.
“The teacher/student relationship is vitally important for education,” Watkins said.
Hutchinson said that’s the goal.
“This is an effort to have competitive teacher salaries all across the state of Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.