LITTLE ROCK – Gubernatorial nominee Chris Jones released his Teacher Pay Plus Plan on Tuesday, to “Raise the Floor” and “Close the Gaps” on teacher pay and education quality across Arkansas. Jones is calling for the state to use a portion of its $1.6 billion surplus to bring Arkansas out of the basement on teacher pay to a regionally competitive range. This means providing an immediate bonus, supporting Governor Asa Hutchinson’s framework to raise the minimum teacher salary to $46,000 a year and making a commitment to raise the threshold to $50,000 a year by the end of his first term. The plan provides additional investments to support rural teachers and deferred building maintenance needs. Jones’s plan provides a clear path to sustained funding for local school districts.
The Teacher Pay Plus Plan utilizes a portion of the state’s historic surplus, with a sustainable total long-term funding structure.
For Teachers & Staff:
- One-Time Surplus Bonus For Teachers and Staff between $1,000-$2,500 per school employee.
- Raise the Floor with Minimum Teacher Pay: $46,000 this August, raised to $50,000 per year by the end of the first term of the Jones administration and $4,200 for those who already make $46,000 or more.
- Close the Gaps on rural teacher shortage with a Rural Teacher Incentive Program.
For Local Schools:
- Deferred Maintenance Building Program (from surplus).
- Stability Fund (from surplus) to address unexpected economic changes.
“Arkansans want us to meet this moment and rise to this occasion. We have a record state surplus of $1.6 billion dollars. It’s common sense that we invest in our children’s education and our teachers. I am putting forward my Teacher Pay Plus Plan as a commitment to Arkansas voters, to demonstrate that I am dedicated to supporting achievable, common ground, bipartisan work. It’s about our values and about smart investments. We can raise the floor and close the gaps in teacher pay and education across our great state,” said Chris Jones.
“I urge my general election opponent Sarah Huckabee Sanders to join in on this statewide discussion. Our teachers and the kids in our classrooms deserve clear cut support from all of us. Right now they’re working hard to raise pay in this August’s special session. They deserve support from all of us. The longer we wait, the further behind our students get.”
The release of the Teacher Pay Plus Plan comes as bipartisan support surges for raising the state’s regionally-low teacher pay during the upcoming August special session of the Arkansas Legislature. Jones released his plan at a public press conference at the historic Little Rock Central High School on Tuesday joined by educators from across the state. Arkansas has more than 34,000 teachers but is facing a critical shortage as educators leave the profession in search of better pay and more support from state lawmakers.
Arkansas ranks bottom in the nation in minimum teacher salary. Neighboring states like Mississippi have raised teacher pay with more than 96 percent of Mississippi teachers receiving at least a $4,000 a raise. Meanwhile, Dallas, Texas school districts are actively recruiting teachers from Arkansas with billboards showcasing dramatically higher salaries. Governor Asa Hutchinson has expressed support for higher teacher pay, and with school starting in August, the special session is the right time to take up the issue.
The release of the Teacher Pay Plus Plan is part of Chris Jones’s larger PB&J (Preschool, Broadband, Jobs) agenda.