Gov. Pat McCrory is making a proposal to put more into North Carolina teacher’s bank accounts by increasing pay to more than $50,000 through an average 5 percent increase. Although the future is uncertain, local school leaders are staying optimistic about the governor’s goal.
If McCrory’s initiative is approved by his legislative colleagues, it will be the first time in state history that the average salary for teachers surpasses the $50,000 mark. According to a news release, the announcement was made during a recent visit to his alma mater in Jamestown.
“Two years ago, when I announced a significant teacher pay raise plan right here at Ragsdale, I promised that we would not stop there,” McCrory said. “Today, I am following through on that promise and introducing an aggressive education budget that will bring average teacher pay to more than $50,000 for the first time in state history.”
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, said it was positive sign when it comes to teacher pay increases and mentioned how State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson has advocated for significant increases for teachers.
“As a superintendent who is charged with maintaining top quality schools for every student, I applaud these proposals,” Bracy said. “It is my hope that the Legislature will follow through in providing significant increases for all teachers during this session of the General Assembly.”
Bracy referred to a UNC report showing that fewer college students are enrolling in teacher education programs.
“School districts across the state are having difficulty attracting teachers and keeping teachers from leaving for other states and other professions,” Bracy said. “Failure to provide adequate compensation is a huge factor driving these decisions.
“I believe the parents and citizens in our state expect North Carolina to rank higher than 47th place in the nation for average teacher salary,” Bracy said. “The Legislature has a tremendous opportunity in the coming months to boost this ranking and provide higher compensation for our teachers. It is my hope that they will make this happen.”
In addition to health and retirement benefits offered to full-time educators, the proposal would bring the average teacher compensation to more than $66,000.
“It’s also important to remember that state pay raises impact local budgets,” Bracy said. “All public school employees deserve a salary increase this year.”
Dr. Stuart Blount, superintendent of Clinton City Schools, is also supportive of the governor’s proposal.
“Teachers work many hours going above and beyond for our students in Clinton City Schools,” Blount said. “The news of the governor proposing such a pay increase, should prove to assist in recruiting, as well as keeping teachers in the profession.”
If approved, Blount said the proposal has the potential to enhance the livelihood of many educational employees. In the 2015-2016 school year, beginning teachers (up to four years) received a raise from $33,000 to $35,000.
“A percentage (across the board) that all employees would receive, will assist in restoring greater unity amongst the teaching staff,” Blount said. “Having new teachers interested in education is important, but our veteran teachers provide a wealth of knowledge within the classrooms.”
According to the governor’s office, the state has committed over $1 billion more for teacher pay through his first term, which was due to the largest average teacher pay increase in the United States. It includes both increased base pay for early career educators and advancing teachers more quickly along the pay scale.
Along with teacher pay, McCrory’s budget proposal also include recruiting new teachers, modernizing classrooms, expanding opportunities for special needs students, boosting community college graduation and expanding college access. More details regarding the proposal will be released later during the month.
“Goals being set are a great starting point, and that is what Governor McCrory’s proposal does,” added Faith Jackson, community liaison for Clinton City Schools. “Time will tell if the goals stated are met or exceeded.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.