Governor unveils plan for teacher raises

No details on how state will pay for them
May. 08, 2014 @ 07:38 AM

Gov. Pat McCrory announced his plan Wednesday to provide at least 2 percent pay increases for all teachers in the short term, plus a plan to begin trying ways to reward teachers based on performance.

The long-term plan, known as The Career Pathways for Teachers, would be a pilot program in eight counties, giving teachers raises based on years of experience, academic credentials, performance and mentoring to other teachers. McCrory said he wants individual school systems to submit their plans on how to accomplish that, and the systems for the pilot program would be chosen from among them.

If the General Assembly approves McCrory's idea, Superintendent for Caldwell County Steve Stone said there is a chance Caldwell County would try to be one of those eight systems in the pilot.

“As soon as we get more details about what it would look like, I think we would look upon it favorably if it doesn’t entail a lot of extra work on our teachers,” he said.

If a plan allows Caldwell County to give raises with input from teachers and community members, then he supports the idea.

“I think the governor is making a good step,” Stone said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

In the short term, McCrory said his recommendations to legislators next week to adjust the two-year budget would give an average 2 percent raise to all veteran teachers. That's above and beyond a February agreement with lawmakers to raise the starting base pay to $33,000 for this coming fall.

The immediate teacher salary increases, along with a proposed flat $1,000 raise for all state employees, would cost $265 million for the year starting July 1, state budget director Art Pope told reporters.

Pope and McCrory didn't give details Wednesday about how they would pay for the increases, except to say that there is more than $600 million in unspent funds to close this year's shortfall and that tough decisions are being made on the budget adjustments they're unveiling next week.

The plan McCrory announced Wednesday is just the latest of several teacher-pay plans in play in Raleigh.

One that the General Assembly approved last year, for school systems to compile a list of 25 percent of their "top" teachers and offer them a four-year contract with a raise in exchange for giving up tenure protections, is in a measure of limbo after a Guilford Superior Court judge issued an injunction two weeks ago saying that the Guilford and Durham county school systems do not have to follow that law while their lawsuit against it is pending.

It is unclear so far whether the judge’s ruling will affect all school systems in the state. Stone said Caldwell County has pushed back its deadline for its process of selecting its 25 percent who would be offered raises. The Caldwell County Board of Education already submitted a resolution to the General Assembly showing disapproval of the plan.

“We’re pushing it back to June and announcing the names in June unless the law changes, which is what we’re hoping,” Stone said.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest also announced Wednesday proposed legislation to create the North Carolina Education Endowment, a fund that could be used to supplement teacher pay. The endowment would be supported by tax-deductible contributions and by fees from a specialty license plate.

Teachers have gotten only one raise – 1.2 percent statewide – in the past five years. The state ranks 46th in average teacher pay and trails all neighboring states.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.