A bill to raise the minimum teacher salary in Maine to $40,000 a year was before lawmakers on Wednesday, more than a decade after lawmakers set the last minimum salary at $30,000 a year.
“If we want to show that we value and respect education, we must provide teachers with respectable wages,” Nate Petersen, a social studies teacher at Hermon High School, said at Wednesday’s public hearing. “We need standards that ensure anyone who becomes a teacher enters the classroom ready to reach, teach and inspire every student. You can’t attain those qualities when you’re only offering to pay someone a minimum of $30,000.”
The bill’s author, Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, had a similar bill last session, which failed in a party-line vote in the Senate. L.D. 818 would also raise teacher training standards and increase the amount of state student loan aid available to students training to be teachers.
Legislation passed in 2005 during the Baldacci administration set a minimum teacher salary of $30,000 a year. Under that law, the state sent money to districts to make up the difference between what the districts paid some teachers and the $30,000 minimum. The state funding stopped in 2012-13, when the supplement was eliminated in a cost-cutting move under the LePage administration, leaving districts to make up the difference.