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Legislators pass education budget

State legislators passed the largest Education Trust Fund Budget since 2008 last week, and Escambia County Schools Superintendent John Knott said he’s so glad that law makers were able to come to a consensus.

“I am really tickled they were able to maintain the raises for teachers,” Knott said. “They certainly need it terribly bad.”

The budget has been sent to Gov. Robert Bentley, who is expected to sign it, according to reports.

The budget is the largest since the 2008 budget, which was in upward of $6.7 billion, and about $336 million higher than this year’s.

Educators making $75,000 or less will be getting a 4 percent raise. Principals and assistant principals will also get a raise.

Knott said at present, there are 638 full time employees in the county school system, and substitute teachers will not be getting the 4 percent raise automatically.

“Although, we’ll be looking at the salary schedules,” he said. “Right now, we have 638 employees, and there are about six that are not included in the 4 percent amount.”

Bentley said teachers deserve pay raises and the bill is a step in the right direction.

“In my State of the State address in February, I prioritized a pay raise for teachers and support staff, and I commend the Alabama Legislature for passing this important piece of legislation,” Bentley said in a statement. “Alabama’s commitment to education is strong, and with this pay raise, state leaders are sending a clear message of support to our invaluable teachers and other support staff.”

Additionally, the budget includes $16 million for the expansion of the state’s Pre-K program.

In Escambia County, the only Pre-K program is at A.C. Moore Elementary School in Atmore.

Knott said the school system has already submitted applications for two more Pre-K programs in the county.

“With the appproval of the extended funding for the Pre-K program, that gives us hope that we’ll get both, if not, but one to extend the Pre-K program here,” he said.