The state’s nearly two-month overdue budget glacially neared completion Wednesday as the legislature reached an agreement on teacher pay.
Teachers across the state will receive a one-time $750 bonus this year as opposed to the House’s original plan to give all teachers a 2 percent raise, according to documents provided by Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, to the (Raleigh) News & Observer.
Salaries for teachers with less than five years' experience will be increased to $35,000, a benchmark previously set in 2014 as part of a teacher raise. On average, all teachers received a 7 percent raise — though much of it was concentrated on teachers with less than 10 years experience.
Mollie Young, spokeswoman for House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, confirmed the entry-level pay increase and the bonus for teachers and other state employees. Young also said the House and Senate leaders are still negotiating a formal raise in year two of the budget.
Republicans touted the 2014 law as one of the largest teacher raises in North Carolina’s history, and the claim featured prominently in then-House Speaker Thom Tillis’ successful U.S. Senate campaign.
But teacher advocacy groups, WRAL’s fact-checkers and the N. C. General Assembly’s fiscal staff all challenged the validity of such claims.
Rodney Ellis, president of the N.C. Association of Educators, said teachers' salaries in the state still lag far behind the national average.
“A proposed one-time bonus shows the GA has no long range plan to address the impending teacher shortage crisis and the ability to recruit and retain quality educators to our public school classrooms," Ellis said in an email. "North Carolina will continue to rank in the bottom tier of states when it comes to average teacher pay and per-pupil spending. Our students deserve better than this.”
Prior to 2014’s increase, N.C. teachers ranked 46th in teachers' pay, and lawmakers said the raise would bump them up to 32nd nationally. However, a March report from the National Education Association estimated that even with the increase, North Carolina would only rank 42nd with its average teacher salary of $47,783 still $10,000 less than the national average.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.