Local school leaders are pleased and optimistic about North Carolina’s budget, which includes positive highlights for teachers.
According to Associated Press reports, a $22.3 billion plan has preliminary approval from House legislators. The Senate already approved the measure last week. It adjust the second year of a two-year budget, which was already approved.
“We are pleased that the General Assembly has passed the state budget for 2016-2017,” stated Dr. Stuart Blount, superintendent for Clinton City Schools. “This will allow our staff to finalize our budgetary process and to finalize the funding of our priorities for the 2016-2017 school year.”
A couple of the highlights include money to teach an additional 5,875 students expected to begin public school in the fall; using $57.3 million more in state lottery funds to pay for clerical, custodians and support staff, in addition to the $315 million in lottery funds for non-instructional personnel.
Another highlight of the budget includes a $10 million pilot program to give third-grade reading teachers bonuses for having success with students scoring in the top 25 percent of similar teachers statewide and in each school districts. This means a teacher could receive up to $6,800 in extra pay.
Under a $4.9 million two-year pilot program, teachers would receive $25 or $50 bonuses for every student that receives good grades on Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate course tests or on career and technical tests.
Blount thanked the members of the General Assembly for working diligently to approve the budget.
“The final budget numbers will not be received for several weeks, however, we will be receiving them much sooner than in the past,” Blount said. “Once we receive the final numbers, we will be able to determine the impact the state budget will have on our overall budget.”
Some of the other positive takeaways include an additional $2.5 million for instructional supplies, materials and equipment, which brings the total to $47 million; using $4.7 million to carry out the state’s Digital Learning Plan; raising textbook and digital material spending by $10 million to $71.5 million; and creating tuition reimbursement for 25 teacher assistants pursuing a college degree. Five counties will be selected for this program.
A few months ago, Gov. Pat McCrory made a proposal to increase the salary of teachers and state legislators made measures to follow through by raising the pay by more than 4 percent.
“We are still learning about various aspects of the state budget and its impact on public schools,” said Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools. “As predicted, legislators are providing pay increases for teachers and state employees. Our employees deserve higher compensation and we are appreciative of all efforts to boost salaries of those whom we entrust the education of our children.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.