Political Insider

An AJC blog about Atlanta politics, Georgia politics, Georgia and metro Atlanta election campaigns. Because all politics is local.

Nathan Deal tries to turn tables on teacher pay

If you’ve followed this blog, you know of some Republican unrest in Cobb County and other parts of suburban Atlanta over school funding.

“Governor Deal needs to feel uncomfortable,” one Cobb school board member told parents in December. Board chairman Randy Scamihorn declared his school system “broke.”

From the Deal campaign's website

The idea has been to put some heat on a governor seeking re-election. Now the Nathan Deal campaign is attempting to turn back some of that criticism – with this online petition that points dissatisfied parents to local school boards. From the website:

Every child deserves the opportunity to receive a world class education. And the best way to do that is to start with our teachers. Gov. Nathan Deal has allocated an additional $500 million to Georgia's education budget to ensure the best possible education for our children.

Now, it's up to your local school board to decide how that money is spent in your district. Gov. Deal adamantly believes one of the best ways to improve education for our children is by investing in our best teachers. That's why Gov. Deal is calling on the school boards to pay teachers more.

But it might not be worth picking a side in the fight. Consider this analysis posted this afternoon by Alan Essig of the center-left Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. A portion:

To be sure, the governor’s proposal does include money for salary adjustments for state employees, Board of Regents staff and K-12. But the increase is probably not enough for every state employee and teacher to receive even a token pay raise.

State employees and teachers have gone without base salary cost-of-living increases for five years. Inflation was more than 9 percent during that time, while state employees and teachers were hit with hikes in health insurance premiums of about 10 percent from 2010 to 2012 and about 7.5 percent in 2013…

Will K-12 teachers receive a base salary cost-of-living increase? The answer is complicated. Although money is included in the proposed 2015 budget for seniority-based teacher step increases, there is no dedicated source for base salary cost-of-living increases. The governor included $314 million in the Department of Education’s 2015 budget to offset a portion of the $1 billion austerity cut and provide local school districts the flexibility to reduce or eliminate furlough days, increase instructional days, or provide salary increases to teachers.

Since more than 70 percent of school districts have cut the school calendar and 80 percent are furloughing teachers, it is likely that the great majority of the money will be used to assure a full academic calendar, rather than for local salary supplements.

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About the Author

Jim Galloway is a three-decade veteran of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution who writes the Political Insider blog and column.