Sharing great education news

Rodney Brown, Dr. Gregory Graves, Janet Novatnak and Bobby Pierson gather for photos after the Alabama Education Association Summer Leadership Conference at Pelham Civic Complex on June 22. (Contributed)

Rodney Brown, Dr. Gregory Graves, Janet Novatnak and Bobby Pierson gather for photos after the Alabama Education Association Summer Leadership Conference at Pelham Civic Complex on June 22. (Contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

If Multiple Professional Syndrome actually existed, certainly Google Image would display mostly teachers as a result of that search phrase.

Especially in the summer, teachers become full-time multiple professionals as researchers, writers, copyright experts, negotiators, collaborators, travel agents and students—all to prepare for the new academic year.

The frightening part of that preparation is planning for the expenses of exciting new ideas—especially if funding is nonexistent.

The Alabama Education Association’s Annual Summer Leadership Conference held at various locations around the state in June allows teachers and other school employees to meet and discover the State of Alabama’s education budget and other legislation affecting schools.

Last week, Pelham Civic Complex hosted the local meeting.

Legal professionals answered questions about complex Charter School legislation.

Virtual school legislation requiring every local board of education to have online classes available by 2016-17 was examined.

Dr. Gregory Graves, AEA Associate Executive Secretary, reminded to us to keep our focus and our conversations centered on children.

Kevin Snowden, State Director of Pupil Transportation, shared information and updates.

Donna Armstrong presented a session on protecting students from becoming victims of human trafficking. The really big news, however, is always about the education budget.

“This is the best education budget since 2008,” presenter Amy Hubbard Marlowe said.

Marlowe added that the budget was bittersweet without pay raises; however, funding for each teacher’s classroom increased to $375 per teacher.

While $375 will not cover every printer cartridge, art supply, bulletin board item, Sharpie and copy that students need in class, $375 for classroom supplies will prevent some out-of-pocket spending—and decreased personal spending for class can feel like a raise.

The 2015-16 education budget includes $13 million in increases for textbooks, $3 million in additional funding for classroom technology, $3 million in increased funding for professional development and $1 million in school library enhancement funding.

Updated textbooks and technology, increased funding for classroom supplies and money to bring the latest print and digital books to our school libraries makes this education budget a win for students and a celebration for teachers.