Caldwell County school board backs teacher raises

Mar. 25, 2014 @ 04:27 PM

The N.C. General Assembly should provide raises for all teachers, not just new ones or a specially designated segment of teachers, the Caldwell County Board of Education said Monday.

The board approved two resolutions to be sent to the General Assembly addressing teacher pay.

The first resolution addresses a plan announced by Gov. Pat McCrory in February to raise the starting base pay for teachers from $30,800 to $35,000 over two years and also a measure passed last year to end pay increases for teachers who achieve a master’s degree. The second addresses a law passed last year calling for school systems to offer a $500 raise and four-year contract to 25 percent of their teachers in exchange for those teachers giving up their tenure protections.

The first resolution asks the General Assembly to “provide sufficient salary increases to the teacher salary schedule so that all teachers are adequately compensated,” to implement “steps so that teachers in their first five years of teaching are not held at the same salary for five years” and to pay teachers with master’s degrees more because of their level of higher education.

The second resolution says that the school system will offer 25 percent of its teachers a raise and contract according to the law, but the board would prefer that the General Assembly do away with it and reallocate the $10 million allocated for the raises “for alternative pay or compensation for classroom teachers for additional duties and assignments with a direct impact on student growth.”

Board members believe that the plan for raises only for 25 percent of teachers will damage the morale of teachers, Superintendent Steve Stone said, referring to the plan as “poison.” 

“We believe it is going to destroy or have a great impact on teacher morale,” Stone said. “This is a very nice way of for us to say to teachers in Caldwell County Schools that we’re going to do the 25 percent plan because we are mandated by law, but we have reservations about it, and we’d like to go on record that we stand with teachers, that this might not be the best plan.”

Board chairman Darrell Pennell said, “We know that the teacher in the classroom is the most important person, and we support teachers and have supported teachers in the past. By doing this, I think we continue show that we support teachers.”

Board member Dottie Darsie said, “I think all of us would probably agree that more than 25 percent of our teachers deserve this recognition. There’s certainly no question in my mind about that.”

Caldwell County’s proposed process for selecting the 25 percent of teachers would have a part-time employee rank the teachers, which would keep principals out of the process so there is no question of favoritism. Eligible teachers would be shuffled through three pools until the 25 percent are identified to the board in a closed session in June. The process to be used is to be made final in May.