As the numbers behind North Carolina's teacher pay hike become clear, many speculate whether the raise will really help public education in the state.
State Republican leaders Thom Tillis and Phil Berger touted the increase this summer as the highest single-year pay raise in the state's history without raising taxes. They said it would move the state in the national teacher pay rankings from 46th to 32nd.
Teachers do not have to give up their tenure to get the higher pay, which lawmakers had considered during budget discussions this summer.
But Raymond Thomas, a Carrboro High School teacher, said the pay raise is less impressive than politicians say.
“I think it’s great (the legislature) is raising salaries for younger teachers,” Thomas said. “But if you look at the overall way they implemented the pay raise, it’s creating a very flat pay structure.”
Although the raise averages $3,500 per teacher, each teacher’s pay increase could range from 18 percent for less than 10 years experience, to 0.3 percent for veterans who have taught for 30 years in the field.
The budget aims to boost early-career teacher pay by 14 percent over the next two years to $35,000 — a move that experts say could help combat the state's growing teacher turnover rate, which increased from about 12 percent in the 2011-12 school year to more than 14 percent in 2012-13.
The pay raise is costing the state a total of $282 million.
Terry Stoops, an analyst at the John Locke Foundation, said giving bigger raises in the beginning of teaching careers makes sense.