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House panel on future of NC education again postpones looking at teacher compensation

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State Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston County, presides over Monday's sparsely attended meeting of the House panel on the future of public education.

For the second time this month, a North Carolina House committee on the future of public education Monday postponed discussion of teacher pay and benefits.

The House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future had a staff report on teacher compensation on its agenda for both meetings in February. Both times the committee ended its meeting before getting to that report.

The report notes that the state’s teacher salary scale starts lower than that of some other state employees, such as state patrol officers, magistrates and parole officers. And it takes longer for teachers to reach the top of that scale: 25 years, compared with six to 18 years for other jobs.

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NC General Assembly Fiscal Research Division

The report says the current benefit package focuses heavily on retirement and compares unfavorably to surrounding states. It suggests that legislators could modify the pay and benefit package to meet policy goals. One option: Adding benefits such as parental leave and contributions to a 401(k) account.

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NC General Assembly Fiscal Research Division

During the two February meetings, the panel got a report on how the state's public schools are financed and heard ideas from state Superintendent Catherine Truitt, state Board of Education Chair Eric Davis and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson.

Schools across the state face teacher shortages, driven by a dearth of new applicants, large numbers of resignations and absences during COVID-19 surges.

Committee Chair John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican, couldn’t be reached to say when the panel might discuss teacher compensation. The group plans to start holding meetings around the state next month to get local input.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.