From the historic hallways of the most beautiful state Capitol in our great nation, this is Senator Keith Ingram.
Of all the traditions we celebrate in America, one of my favorites is the back to school season.
For students, the first day of class is a time to re-connect with friends and classmates they haven’t seen all summer.
They get new books and new lockers, and they get to meet new teachers. It’s the season for pep rallies and football games. It won’t be long before we can look forward to football weather.
However, I realize that it’s a busy and pressure-paced season for teachers. They’ve been decorating classrooms and planning lessons, in preparation for grading tests and checking homework.
All too often we forget to show our appreciation for teachers, which is why it was so gratifying earlier this year when the Senate approved Act 170 by a unanimous vote of 35-to-0.
That’s the act that raises teacher salaries by about $1,000 a year over the next four years. By 2022, the minimum salary for a starting teacher will be $36,000 a year. Last year it was $31,400.
The teachers who benefit the most are those in in the 168 districts that are paying the state minimum salary, or slightly above it.
Back to school also means that school buses are on the roads, so please be especially careful when you see children at a bus stop.
The legislature increased the penalties for passing a stopped school bus that is letting kids on or off.
Bus drivers report that too many vehicles don’t bother to stop. On a single day last April, 884 vehicles illegally passed school buses that were stopped and had their red lights flashing.
What is particularly frightening is that 12 of those motorists passed the school bus on the right, which is where the kids are getting on and off.
That’s why we raised the maximum penalty from $1,000 to $2,500.
Remember, those school buses are helping keep down the overall volume of traffic, because a full bus means that dozens of parents and guardians don’t have to drive their kids to school.
From the Capitol, it is always my great honor and sincere privilege to serve you as your state Senator. This is Senator Keith Ingram.