With educators, teachers in training, and the commissioner of education looking on, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law HB1145, a bill that raises minimum teacher pay by $4,000 over the next four years.

“This is an important day for Arkansas teachers, who will start their career at a salary that better reflects the importance of the job and our respect for their role in the lives of our children,” Hutchinson said. “It’s also an important day for our state as we signal yet again that Arkansas is a great place to live, to work, and to teach school. This will allow us to retain our homegrown teachers and attract talented teachers from other states.”

The bill will increase the minimum starting salary in 168 of the state’s 235 school districts beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

Teacher pay has been one of Hutchinson’s top priorities since his successful campaign for governor in 2014. Under the governor’s leadership, the minimum teacher salary has increased four times. Over the next four years, HB1145 will increase the starting salary to $36,000 annually, an increase of 13 percent.

Five of the eight the teachers who joined the governor for the bill signing were Arkansas Teachers of the Year. Two were members of the Teacher Leader Advisory Group who met with Governor Hutchinson last year as he formulated the details of the bill. Two of those teachers are from a district that will benefit immediately.

Several education majors who attended are students at the University of Central Arkansas, which for nearly 50 years was known as Arkansas State Teachers College. Dr. Victoria Groves-Scott, dean of UCA’s College of Education, also attended.