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Higher teacher licensing fees approved

The State Board of Education voted 4-3 Wednesday to increase resident teacher license fees 12.5 percent.

Out-of-state license applicants will see an even larger hike, 37.5 percent. Resident fees will rise from $80 to $90, while non-resident rates will jump from $80 to $110.

The new fees originally were proposed to take effect in January. But because the board delayed deciding the issue, the higher rates start next March.

Department of Education staff has told the board the increases are needed to avoid cutting staff and reducing customer service in the Office of Education Preparation, Licensing and Enforcement, whose entire budget is supported by the fees.

In recent years, the office has reduced a six-month waiting period for licenses to four-six weeks, and state officials want to maintain the current level of customer service.

The department says the fee increase will allow the office to hire three more staff members, stay in the black and avoid future fee increases for at least five years. The office has a current annual budget of about $3 million and a staff of 24.

More than 37,000 license applications are received each year, and the office issues about 33,000 licenses, credentials and authorizations.

Initial licenses are good for three years, professional licenses run for five years before renewal, master teacher certificates are valid for seven years and substitute licenses are good for one to five years depending on the license type.

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