State legislative panel OKs recommendations to boost teacher salaries by $4,000, bump minimum starting pay to $40,000

FILE — The state Capitol is shown in this undated file photo.

Members of the House Education committee approved recommendations Tuesday to raise Arkansas teachers’ salaries by $4,000 and bump the annual minimum salary for teachers to $40,000, but whether the proposal is adopted will be a question for lawmakers in January.

The recommendations are part of an effort to boost recruitment and retention efforts for educators, but final approval of the measures is still months away because the General Assembly will not convene again until January and members of the House and Senate are divided over details.

The proposal is an end to a year-long review of education by Arkansas lawmakers that takes place every other year. Teachers, advocates and some state lawmakers have pushed for a large increase to teachers’ salaries because many school districts are having trouble filling open teaching positions, particularly in rural areas.

While members of the House education committee approved the plan, a majority of their Senate colleagues voted it down with the potential that the two committees will offer differing proposals to raise teacher pay, according to Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, the chair of the Senate education committee.