LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Arkansas Gubernatorial candidate Chris Jones says the state needs to invest in our teachers, lending his support to increased pay for educators.
Jones, the Democratic candidate for Arkansas Governor, address the media Tuesday afternoon, calling on state lawmakers to make a change.
“When we invest in teachers, they invest in students,” said Jones.
Jones is suggesting the state use a portion of its $1.6 billion surplus to increase yearly salaries for teachers.
“We can raise the floor for all teachers from $36,000 to $46,000 a year,” said Jones.
For teachers that already make above $46,000, Jones says they should receive a $4,200 raise.
The plan, which outlined spending about $400 million of the surplus would focus on increased pay, investments in rural districts, and create a deferred maintenance building program for local schools.
Jessica Nadzam is a former teacher up in Jonesboro. She says she left the teaching profession about a month ago due to a lack of pay.
“You feel like you work so hard, and often giving up your own finances, and it’s not equal to the level of work you are putting in,” said Nadzam.
Nadzam’s life outside the classroom is just beginning, but the former teacher still says leaving was one of the hardest decisions she’s had to make.
“I drove home, and I got to my driveway, turned the car off, turned the radio off, and I just cried,” said Nadzam.
She says it’s time the state starts investing in its teachers before others make the same choice.
“If it’s something the people want, to increase the salaries of teachers, I’m not going to stand in the way of that,” said Libertarian Gubernatorial candidate Ricky Harrington Jr.
Harrington says he’d like to see a more concrete plan for the years to follow.
“Just dumping so much money into things without a certain plan for what type of return we get for this big of an investment,” said Harrington.
Some say they want to see increased teacher pay discussed in a special session but others say they are concerned it may not have enough support to go through.
Our station has reached out to Gubernatorial candidate Sarah Huckabee Sanders for comment. We have not heard back.