Governor Pat McCrory unveiled a plan Wednesday that calls for a two percent raise on average for all teachers in North Carolina.
The proposal also detailed an overhaul to teacher pay schedules, with the goal of rewarding teachers based on their performance.
During a press conference in Greensboro, McCrory outlined the “Career Pathways for Teachers” program, in which teachers would be rewarded with pay increases for their experience, leadership, impact on student achievement and other factors.
This announcement coincided with Teacher Appreciation Week.
James Barrett, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education member, watched the press conference and shared his initial reactions.
He said the plan was “a short-term solution” and that many aspects of it were unclear.
“Clearly they are scrambling trying to find ideas based on it being an election year,” Barrett said. “I don’t think [the plan] fully supports the teachers that we expect.”
North Carolina’s teachers are among the lowest paid in the country, ranking 46th, and make less than instructors in each of the surrounding states.
As a result, teachers have pushed back against state lawmakers, demanding that cuts to education be reduced.
“One of the stats that we don’t talk about enough is that not only are we 46th in average pay for teachers, but we are 48th in the total amount that we spend per student across the state,” Barrett said.
The proposed revamp of the pay scale would require approval by the legislature, which reconvenes for short session on May 14, and would not take effect until 2017.
Lawmakers also would have to agree to the short-term proposal to increase teacher pay which would be included in the 2014-15 budget proposal.
“That does not get us up to the national average, which is where we were less than 10 years ago,” Barrett said.
In February, McCrory announced that he planned to increase the base pay for starting teachers from $30,800 to $35,000. He said Wednesday’s announcement was a follow-up to that initiative.
McCrory did not specify how he plans to reduce state spending in order to fund the teacher pay raises.
“This may have been a lot of theatre for something that will not actually happen,” Barrett said.
Other Aspects of the “Career Pathways for Teachers” Program:
- Increase funding for early childhood education by $3.6 million.
- Seek salary supplements for teachers who earn advanced degrees in the subjects they are teaching. The supplements will be 10 percent of the teacher’s base pay.
- Double state funding for textbooks to $46 million.
- Work to establish a scholarship fund for newly separated veterans that will provide them essentially in-state tuition at University of North Carolina institutions.
- State employees will receive a raise of $1,000 including benefits, which is an average of 2 percent.
The proposal would also restore pay increases for teachers with advanced degrees, which were eliminated last year by state lawmakers.