Starnes: Teacher pay raises may be on their way

Dec. 02, 2013 @ 08:10 PM

There will be a “concentrated effort” to give teachers pay raises when the N.C. General Assembly convenes in May, House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes told the Granite Falls Town Council on Monday.  

“There is going to be a very serious effort, if we can find some money, to give the state employees and the teachers a pay raise,” Starnes said. “I think there’s going to be a concentrated effort to find money for the pay raises.”

Starnes is not the first member of his party to say that pay raises will be addressed. Gov. Pat McCrory said Nov. 14 that “several options are on the plate” for increasing teacher pay, including greater emphasis on performance-based pay and higher salaries for teachers in high-demand fields such as math and science. Traditional across-the-board pay increases also are possible, he said.

North Carolina teachers have had one pay raise in the last five years, and are among the lowest-paid educators in the country – 46th in the nation, according to the National Education Association.

McCrory has also said pay raises should come earlier in teachers’ careers, to encourage them to stay in the profession. Currently, the state's pay schedule has teachers making $30,800 for the first four years of their careers, only receiving a pay bump of $420 in their fifth year of teaching.

"Right now the increase in their pay is happening so slowly that many of them may be leaving after the first several years, when we're losing potential good career teachers for life," McCrory told reporters Nov. 14.

Several other legislators have also publicly discussed the possibility of pay raises. And a House-Senate task force is expected to report to the General Assembly on teacher pay before the May 2014 short session begins.

The average starting teacher salary in North Carolina is $30,800, compared to $35,672 nationwide, according to the National Education Association. Average teacher pay nationwide is $55,418, compared to $45,947 in North Carolina.

McCrory’s version of the 2013-14 state budget included a 1 percent raise for teachers and state employees, but the final version of the budget included no raises.