Salaries for new math and science teachers in Georgia will be the same as a fifth-year teachers, thanks to a bill signed Wednesday by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

“Just as Georgia businesses increase incentives to fill critical positions, we now have the same ability,” Perdue said in a news release.

The bill would allow new math and science teachers to start at a base state salary of $37,985, an increase of about $4,561, according to Georgia’s salary schedule. The teachers’ salary would then continue to rise a step every year for five years. After that, the increase would be tied to student performance.

To encourage elementary teachers to increase their competency in math and science, the governor’s proposal also provides a $1,000 annual bonus to elementary teachers who hold a math or science endorsement.

“I think it may have some impact on college students and will likely give them some incentive to look at math or science,” said Rome City Schools Superintendent Gayland Cooper, who feels the $1,000 stipend is very advantageous.

In the 2007-2008 school year, Georgia produced 2,000 early childhood teachers, but only one physics teacher, nine chemistry teachers and 140 math teachers.

RNT