GREENSBORO: McCrory unveils new plan to raise teacher pay - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

McCrory unveils new plan to raise teacher pay

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McCrory made the announcement at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. McCrory made the announcement at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest addresses teacher pay at hearing Lt. Gov. Dan Forest addresses teacher pay at hearing
GREENSBORO, N.C. - North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory announced a major education plan Wednesday that will guarantee a new base pay for new teachers and will reward high-performing and experienced teachers.

McCrory made the announcement at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.

"This is not about politics. It's about doing the right thing. This is for the future of our kids," McCrory said.

In the heart of Teacher Appreciation Week, McCrory said it was important to appreciate teachers all year round. To do that, McCrory made five major announcements that will pay and reward the teacher profession in the long-term. The proposal will go to the North Carolina General Assembly when it begins meeting later this month in the short session.

One of those announcements is McCrory’s promise to raise the base pay for teachers from $30,800 to $35,000 regardless of where a teacher lives in North Carolina.

In his budget, McCrory said he is making education a priority. He also plans to provide $3.6 million to expand early childhood education.

And although schools are moving more towards digital technology in the classroom, McCrory said that change won’t happen overnight. To make sure teachers and students have the supplies they need, McCrory plans to double state funding to $46 million for textbooks.

Teachers will also see an average raise of 2 percent in addition to the base pay.

"I want to give the flexibility to our superintendents and to our principals to pay our teachers more based upon the market demand," McCrory said.

McCrory also announced that his budget will allow state employees to get a flat raise of $1,000, including benefits.

But overall, McCrory’s goal is to create a long-term plan to pay and reward teachers and their profession with a new career pathway initiative. Under the new plan, McCrory plans to reward experience and performance. He said teachers who do not meet the needs of students or is not showing results, they will not get an automatic pay increase. The goal is to reward teachers who make the most of their career.

McCrory also plans to help recruit teachers to hard-to-staff schools by providing more money to those teachers. McCrory said top teachers who show leadership skills can also earn more money.

McCrory mentioned providing more money to teachers who teach high demand subjects like math and science or high demand subjects based on the market demands from each school district.

McCrory, as part of his announcement, announced what he called the "Career Pathways" approach.

In that, teachers will be rewarded for wanting to stay teachers and not becoming administrators.

Teachers will get extra compensation for experience, performance, teaching in hard-to-staff schools and teaching subjects in high demand, like math or science.

Jim Merrill, superintendent of the Wake County Public School System, was "very pleased" by the proposal.

"I’m pleased with the fact that the governor’s office has been listening to teachers and superintendents and principals about the need to address both the short-term fix for all teachers as well as a long-term solution," Merrill said. "That, in addition to the opportunities for flexibility and the ability to create our own plans based on a sort-of grant application, that’s exciting.”

Merrill said Wake County would push to be one of the eight pilot programs in the "Career Pathways" initiative.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest also unveiled more details at a meeting in Raleigh Wednesday afternoon.

At the Joint Committee on Education Oversight, Forest announced he plans to create an endowment to supplement teacher pay.

Individuals and corporations will be able to get a tax deduction for giving to the fund. Portions of tax refunds can be designated for the fund. And a new "I Support Teachers" license plate will give its proceeds to the fund.

“This is just the beginning framework for the North Carolina Education Endowment Fund," Forest said. "As our state continues to work its way out of economic stagnation, and as our state government continues to become more efficient, we will find new funding sources for the endowment that allow for expedited growth. The end goal being and endowment that is self-funding and rewards teachers from interest earnings.”

Many are questioning if McCrory's plan will ever materialize.

Matt Ellinwood, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center, said, “It’s a question of ‘do we want to have tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy versus raises for teacher pay.’ The plan is extremely ambitious.”

Ellinwood credits McCrory for taking a stand on teacher pay after years of education cuts and salary freezes but he's also concerned that lawmakers won’t be able to find a way to make room for these increases.

“We're on the tail end of over five years of pretty harsh budget cuts where everything non-essential has already been cut so there's not really much left to cut to make room for this program.”

Rep. Nelson Dollar is the senior chair of the House Appropriations Committee and believes some form of a teacher pay increase will make its way in the budget.

“I think it has a very good chance of passage in the House and Senate as a foundation document in order for the chambers to move forward with the discussion,” Dollar said.

Ellinwood said he’s seen a wide range of estimates on how much the plan would cost.

“I've seen estimates ranging from $200 million to almost $600 million on how much this plan would cost to put in for one year. So, the question is, how do you fill in this huge budgetary hole?”

McCrory's Senior Education Advisor Eric Guckian he said this is a comprehensive proposal that the administration hopes will start a healthy debate in both the House and Senate very soon, that will eventually lead to a compromise.


REACTION TO McCRORY"S PROPOSAL


“The fact is that all teachers need a raise. The governor clearly recognizes the need to undo some of the damage that his administration did to education last year. Unfortunately, Gov. McCrory and Thom Tillis put teachers in tough spot by cutting an additional half billion dollars from education last year in order to give massive handouts to the wealthy and special interests.


"It’s time to see action – and not just to relieve some of the hardships teachers have borne thanks to the governor – but a real plan to raise teacher pay to the national average and ensure our students have the best schools in the country. My colleagues and I stand ready to work with the governor to enact a real plan to achieve those goals.”

_ Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue.

"With teachers working second jobs, leaving the state, and leaving the profession, our public schools need our Governor to lay down a long-term vision to raise teacher pay to the national average. New short-term pay plans wheeled out every few months in an election year will not give teachers the confidence to continue teaching in North Carolina. They will not encourage our best and brightest to enter a teaching career.

"If Gov. McCrory is serious about fighting for better teacher pay, he will deliver a long-term vision and a plan on how to pay for it. Until then, voters are left to wonder if McCory will ditch his plan down the road or raid rainy-day funds and cut other education programs to pay for it."

_ Gerrick Brenner, Progress North Carolina


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