Arkansas becomes one of the highest paid states for teachers thanks to a new law signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson on Monday, February 18. Teachers in the Natural State will see an increase in salary to a minimum of $36,000.
“This is a special occasion for Arkansas and for those who believe in education and the profession of teaching,” said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.
The new bill marks a major step for Arkansas teachers.
“The minimum salary increase will impact 168 out of the 235 school districts in the state of Arkansas,” Hutchinson said.
Over the next four years, a $4,000 increase will be added to teacher salaries. This makes Arkansas the leader among surrounding states in the highest minimum wage for educators.
“Anytime we can give our teachers an increase in salary it’s a plus. We are lower compared to the other larger districts so we’re always looking at our scales and trying to increase those. This minimum requirement is definitely going to help,” Doctor Andrea Martin, Greenland Superintendent said.
According to the bill, $60 million will be provided by the state to help each school meet the requirement. Rural districts like Greenland, Arkansas will still have to fund a big portion to pay for the increased salaries.
“This is the time that we’re planning for those things, but it definitely causes some pause for what our plans were,” Martin said.
According to Martin, to meet the new requirement will cost the district $133,000.
“If we could be doing more we would be doing it already. So we’re going to be looking at all of our other areas of the budget to make sure we can sustain all of the programs.”
This puts things like facilities repairs on the line. Martin says no matter the cost, the bill is a much-needed salute to Arkansas educators
“We’re constantly looking to recruit for our profession so I think it’s definitely going to help,” Martin said.
“For all of those that have been teaching, we honor you in the state of Arkansas. We recognize the impact that you have on our life here in this state,” Hutchinson said.
With one of the smallest school districts in the area, Martin says she is excited for her teachers.
“I think this is where we need to be. I think it’s a good strong message to our teachers that we care very much about them.”
Martin says another way they can meet the requirement is by turning to voters and increasing local taxes for the Greenland School District.