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Teachers eye new proposals

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January 10, 2006

Albany -- Governor Sonny Perdue proposed giving Georgia teachers a pay raise of at least four percent. He also wants the state to freeze any increase in health premiums paid by teachers. The governor says that would translate into an overall seven percent pay raise for more than half of the state's teachers.

South Georgia educators say that will help the teacher shortage.

Westover High School teacher Tiffanie McClung explains the federal reserve act to her tenth grade U. S. History class. An educator for six years, and expecting a child, McClung is excited to hear about the governor's proposed pay raise and benefits package. "I feel that if anybody steps into our shoes and sees the things that we see everyday, would no doubt think that teachers deserve better pay, better benefits."

Georgia educators are paid an average of more than $45,000 a year, among the highest teaching wages in the Southeast. But this proposal could help put better people in the classroom.

Principal Gene Melvin said, "If we raise the salary of our teachers, we're going to get better qualified teachers, and help the shortage in the teacher field also."

McClung and Melvin have seen many pay raise proposals disappear, but think this one could end up in teacher's paychecks. McClung said, "I think because it's an election year we'll a lot better results."

Lt. Governor Mark Taylor, another gubernatorial candidate, has also proposed a pay raise for state teachers. Now that it is election year, teachers and education are hot topics under Atlanta's gold dome again, which is fine with Southwest Georgia teachers.

The governor says the four percent raise for teachers would cost about $217 million, while the freezing of health premiums will cost another $138 million.

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