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Alabama House Approves Teacher Raises, Legislature to Consider Jason Flatt Act

Alabama State House
Alabama House of Representatives

The Alabama House of Representatives voted unanimously yesterday to approve an education budget that gives teachers their first pay raise in several years.

The spending plan would give a 4 percent raise to teachers making less than $75,000 annually, and a 2 percent raise to all other teachers in the state.

All 105 state representatives approved the budget, sending it to the Alabama Senate for consideration.

In 2013, lawmakers approved a 2 percent pay raise for teachers, but that was offset by increases in benefit costs. The last raise before that came in 2007.

The proposed education budget would also provide money to hire an additional 475 teachers in middle schools and high schools and provide an additional $14 million to the state's new prekindergarten program.

Alabama lawmakers will be considering a proposal to help prevent teen suicides. APR’s Pat Duggins has more on the unveiling of the Jason Flatt Act.

Jason Flatt was a Tennessee teenager who shot himself to death in 1997. Police say the suicide occurred just after he broke up with his girlfriend.

State Senator Gerald Allen is sponsoring a bill to make Alabama the 17th state in the nation to pass the Jason Flatt Act. The measure requires educators to get training on how to spot warning signs in students thinking of taking their own lives.

Allen was joined by Jason’s father Clark and Crimson Tide head football coach Nick Saban to announce the filing of Alabama’s version of the Jason Flatt Act. The teenager’s family created the Jason Foundation to help schools identify at-risk students and to encourage legislators to pass laws to help teenagers thinking of suicide.

Montgomery school kids are hearing a message that’s out of this world.

Officials from NASA are traveling from Huntsville to Montgomery this week. The space agency wants to spread the word about the importance of Alabama’s role in NASA’s journey to Mars while also inspiring the next generations of engineers, scientists and explorers.

Scott Broemsen is a Legislative Affairs Officer at Marshall Space Flight Center. He says NASA’s role in Alabama is not just confined to Huntsville.

“This is an annual aerospace week we hold in Montgomery and NASA day is part of it. A part of the message we want to bring to people is that while they may have heard NASA is in Huntsville and the Marshall Space Flight Center is in Huntsville, they may not know the roots we have across the state.”

Marshall Space Flight Center leaders will also meet with elected officials and be honored by the Alabama Legislature.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley will sign an executive order later today to create an office of minority affairs.

Gov. Bentley says the new minority affairs office will offer advice and guidance on issues impacting minorities and women with the goal of improving their overall quality of life.

The governor says education, health, political engagement, criminal justice and race relations are among the issues he expects the office to offer guidance on.

Bentley is scheduled to sign the order at 11:30 this morning.

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