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Plan aids NC principals otherwise penalized for pay change

North Carolina’s schools chief unveiled a plan on Wednesday that would prevent some public school principals from facing pay cuts in 2023 due to an alteration in how performance-based compensation is calculated.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said about $4.5 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds for education would be spent to ensure that about 360 principals won’t see a reduction in their portion of pay that's based on student achievement at the schools they have led. The State Board of Education will consider the plan next week, the Department of Public Instruction said in a news release.

An update to this year’s state budget enacted last month declares that starting in January, performance pay won't be based on three years of performance data, but rather just one: the 2021-22 school year, when schools and students were challenged greatly by COVID-19 restrictions.

While many principals would benefit financially from the change, roughly 15% of them could otherwise take pay cuts from $7,200 to $18,000 over 12 months, the department said. The General Assembly completed its chief work session for the year in July, and it’s unclear if lawmakers would have addressed the issue by the end of the year.

“We are thrilled that we can hold our principals harmless given the incredibly challenging and extenuating circumstances that the pandemic brought into our schools,” Truitt said in the news release. “Their paychecks certainly shouldn’t be dictated by the uncertainty they absorbed and yet heroically managed through the 2021-22 school year.”

Once the proposal is approved, the Department of Public Instruction will develop a policy for the funds to be distributed. Another state budget provision giving across-the-board 4% salary increases to principals this fiscal year isn't changing.

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