Chairpersons for both the Orange County and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Boards of Education had some words of praise for the North Carolina House of Representatives budget released Tuesday.
“The House budget is silent on the tenure piece of things,” said Orange County Board of Education Chair Donna Coffey. “And so I think that’s probably a great thing.”
Regarding education, the $21 billion budget would offer teachers five percent raises on average, without requiring them to give up tenure.
The proposed Senate budget offers teachers an 11 percent raise, but only if they agree to give up tenure.
According to the House plan, the raises would be funded by expected higher revenues from the North Carolina Education Lottery.
“I think it’s ambitious on the part of the state,” says Coffey. “However, if it means that we’re going to receive more lottery money, then I think that’s a great thing, because in the past, the state has wanted to either use our lottery money for something other than education, or not fully fund the lottery.”
However, Coffey did not embrace the lottery component without reservation.
“However, it’s a short-sighted plan, because I’m not sure that those would be recurring revenues that would fall over into the future years,” says Coffey.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of Education Chair Jamezetta Bedford was even more dismissive of that idea.
“They think lottery revenues are going to fund this?” says Bedford. “What a joke.”
Still, Bedford says that she, too, is encouraged by some of the things she’s hearing.
“The House proposal for teacher raises is much more reasonable,” says Bedford. “It would help us with recruiting and retention. And the idea that they don’t have to give up their tenure is also very promising.”
Bedford says she’s especially glad that there’s no mention of cutting teachers assistants in the House budget, whereas the Senate budget would cut up to 7,400 teacher assistants statewide.
“We need jobs, and we need them in the classroom,” she says. “They make a big difference in supporting students and activities, so that certified teachers can really teach.”
Coffey had this to say about the Senate budget.
“I think the Senate plan, on many levels, including education, was not a good one.”
WRAL reports that Speaker Thom Tillis expects the House and Senate to work out differences between their two budget plans by the end of next week.