McCrory announces higher starting pay for NC teachers

Feb. 10, 2014 @ 06:44 PM

At his alma mater, Ragsdale High School, Gov. Pat McCrory made an announcement that he hopes will attract quality teachers to North Carolina.
McCrory announced that the base pay for teachers will be increased by 14 percent to $35,000 over the next two years. In year one, pay will increase $2,200 and in year two pay will increase by another $2,000 for starting teachers. Currently, starting teachers with bachelor’s degrees receive $30,800 annually. The raises will cost around $200 million but Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said they can be done without raising taxes.
This increase would affect about 24,000 of the state’s 95,000 public school teachers.
“This is just a first step,” McCrory said. “Of course, we would love to do more and as the revenue picture becomes clearer, our goal is to roll out additional proposals this year.”
North Carolina was ranked 47th in the country for starting salaries during the 2012-13 school year, according to the National Education Association. This increase would put North Carolina ahead of some surrounding states in starting salaries including Tennessee which starts teachers at $34,098; South Carolina which starts at $32,306 and Georgia which starts at $33,644. Other surrounding states continue to have high starting salaries like Virginia at $37,848 and Florida and Kentucky at $35,166.
Karyn Dickerson, an English teacher at Grimsley High School and North Carolina Teacher of the Year, is on the governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee and helped present teacher pay as the most important issue for the state.
“This is a great first step to recruit teachers to North Carolina but we also need something to retain the teachers we already have in our classrooms,” Dickerson said.
In the last five years, teachers have received a 1.2 percent raise. The teacher salary schedule has been frozen since 2008. Once the increase is implemented, starting teachers will make nearly as much as teachers that have 10 years’ experience.
Liz Foster, a teacher at The Middle College at GTCC and executive director of Guilford County Association of Educators, said all educators need more.
“It’s a great first step that recognizes that base pay for teachers is abysmal but teacher pay overall is abysmal and this does nothing to address anyone but first-year teachers. I applaud Gov. McCrory for taking this bold first step but we need more in order to ensure that we’re retaining the best teachers in the nation.”
Rep. Marcus Brandon, D-Guilford, said the announcement should be good news for teachers.
“Teacher morale is extremely low and hopefully today’s announcement is a big step in changing that around,” Brandon said. “I’d still like to see our teacher pay at national average ($36,141) or above. We can’t do anything without teachers and they should be compensated for the hard work they do.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger, and Speaker Thom Tillis also were in attendance.
Forest also announced that the administration would be backtracking on its master’s pay legislation that eliminated supplemental pay for teachers earning their master’s degree. Teachers that completed a class toward their master’s degree by July 2013 will get the supplemental pay when their degree is completed.
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Associated Press contributed to this article.