Arkansas: Legislators Want Schools To Use Federal Funds To Provide Bonuses To Teachers And Staff

On Thursday, legislators in Arkansas revoked the power that they had granted to the state to transfer around $460 million in leftover federal COVID-19 relief money to school districts. The lawmakers said that they want the money to be used by schools to compensate teachers and other staff members with bonuses.

Democrats voiced their objection to the decision, claiming that it was an attempt to avoid debating boosting teacher compensation when the state sits on a surplus of $1.6 billion. Additionally, it was attacked by the Republican governor of the state, Asa Hutchinson, who said that legislators lacked the right to take such a move.

The Legislative Council took a vote and decided to revoke the authorization for the federal cash. They also suggested that the schools utilize the money for incentives for their staff. The council said that the districts’ expenditure plans would now have to be presented to a parliamentary commission for consideration. The council suggested districts utilize the monies to pay $5,000 one-time incentives to teachers and $2,500 to staff.

This action came about as Democrats and teachers’ organizations have been pressing for teacher compensation raises to be on the agenda when the Legislature convenes the following month for a special session focused on tax reduction.

Since the Legislature hasn’t finished its statutory yearly review of school financing, Republican legislative leaders say a special session isn’t the correct time to address the problem. This study, which also involves an examination of teacher wages, is used to formulate recommendations for increases in school spending.

Over the course of the previous several years, Arkansas has implemented a series of compensation increases for its teaching staff. As a result, the state’s minimum salary requirement for the next school year is $36,000. Those in favor of the wage increase have pointed out that the majority of the states that border Arkansas have greater starting wages than Arkansas does.

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