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McCrory's Plan Includes Small Raises For All Teachers, Pay Overhaul

Lisa Miller

Governor Pat McCrory rolled out his plan yesterday to give all teachers a pay raise next year. That’s right, all teachers, not just those in their first ten years on the job as he proposed earlier this year. It also includes a long-term plan to overhaul teacher pay. State lawmakers say it sounds good, but they wonder where all that money will come from. 

McCrory’s plan calls for at least a 2 percent raise for all teachers.

“We’d like to do more, but that’s a start,” he told a room full of educators and teachers-in-training at North Carolina A&T University.    

Back in February, McCrory outlined a plan to raise salaries for teachers in their first ten years on the job. Those with up to seven years of experience would see their base pay go up to $33,000 next year. For most of those teachers that amounts to a 7 percent raise. That doesn’t include the extra money counties often pitch in. 

“We fully intend to keep that promise,” said McCrory.   

The governor also wants to restore a bump in pay for those teachers who earn master’s degrees, as long as those degrees are in the subjects they teach.

That’s the plan for next year and it’s an expensive one. The raises alone would cost $265 million. That includes a $1,000 boost for all state employees too.

Representative Craig Horn of Union County was one of a couple state lawmakers there for the announcement. The numbers made him scratch his head, especially after hearing last week of a $445 million revenue shortfall. 

“So I am anxious,” sighed Horn.  “Now, I know the Governor and I trust the governor. I trust Art Pope. I trust Eric Guckian, that they’ve looked at these numbers and they’re able to make adjustments. So I’m really looking forward to getting the budget from them, seeing where they found the money and how they found the money.” 

Statements from House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro-Tem Phil Berger pretty much said the same thing. State Budget Director Art Pope was coy about the numbers, but said those details will be released next week when McCrory presents his budget proposal. 

The plan went over well with the handful of school superintendents at the announcement. One of them was Mark Edwards with Mooresville Graded Schools. He’s long been outspoken about the state’s failure to increase teacher pay. Standing beside the Governor, he praised the plan. 

“We would all like to see a bigger raise than 2 percent, but that is a step in the right direction. That’s an important step. It’s a forward step. We also have a long-term vision of a compensation framework that makes sense,” said Edwards.

McCrory used sixth grade math and science teacher Alton Campbell in the audience to highlight that long-term plan. He’s in his fifth year of teaching with a base salary of $30,800. But if McCrory’s plan works out, he would earn up to $12,000 more. McCrory said that’s because he’s “a highly effective teacher in a hard-to-staff school, teaching two market-driven subjects and serving as a teacher-leader in a school.” 

For some teachers that extra money could add up to more than $20,000. McCrory wants that plan to take hold statewide three years from now. It’s not clear how much it would cost. But in the meantime he wants sixteen districts to start experimenting with pay plans like this. 

Right now teacher salaries are based on years of experience. Under McCrory’s plan, experience would still determine base pay. Younger teachers would see their base salaries rise more quickly. They would go up by $3,000 every three or four years, provided teachers meet certain performance thresholds. 

Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.