Raleigh, N.C. – Senate Republicans unveiled a groundbreaking plan Wednesday to provide North Carolina public school teachers an average 11.2 percent permanent pay raise beginning July 1. The $468 million increase would be the largest in state history and would boost North Carolina from 47th in overall teacher pay to the middle of current national rankings and from 9th to 3rd in the Southeast, propelling the state ahead of Virginia, Tennessee and South Carolina.
The plan, which replaces the archaic 37-step system with an entirely new base pay scale designed to attract and keep the best teachers in the classroom, would provide more than a $5,800 average salary increase per teacher in the first year of implementation.
“There’s no greater investment we can make than in preparing our children for the future, and that’s why Senate Republicans have focused on improving student outcomes since day one,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham). “We’ve already taken steps to reform education and improve early career and performance pay for teachers. Investing nearly half a billion dollars in pay raises will make North Carolina a regional leader and encourage the best and brightest teachers to make a long-term commitment to their profession, our students and our state.”
The Senate proposal would repeal the automatic loss of tenure in 2018 and instead offer teachers a choice of whether to maintain that status. Teachers who decide to work on annual contracts for the 2014-15 school year would move to the new pay scale and receive the substantial salary increase. Those who choose to keep tenure would remain on the current pay schedule.
“We appreciate the feedback we’ve heard from our teachers on the need for a pay increase and the desire for a choice on tenure,” said Senate Majority Whip Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), co-chair of the Senate Education Committee. “We are pleased to be able to come forward with a solution that addresses both of these concerns.”
The plan would also provide an additional $39 million for pay raises for other public school employees. It matches the governor’s proposal to provide principals and other school administrators with an average two percent increase. And non-instructional public school employees would receive a $500 flat raise.
“By ensuring over 90 percent of dollars for public school pay raises go directly to teachers, we are prioritizing those who have the greatest impact on student performance and providing a major incentive for them to stay in the classroom,” said Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Henderson), co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education/Higher Education.
“Under this plan, for the first time in state history, our public school teachers will now have an opportunity to make more than administrators,” said Sen. Dan Soucek (R-Watauga), co-chair of the Senate Education Committee.
Finally, the proposal fulfills the commitment state leaders made earlier this year to extend supplemental pay for teachers with Master’s degrees to those who have completed at least one course in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013. And it expands opportunities for local school systems to recognize and reward top performers by allocating funds for up to 35 percent of teachers to receive pay for excellence increases.
Senate Republicans pledged to pay for the raises with recurring revenue sources and without a tax hike.
“This year’s Senate budget funds this record teacher pay raise and $500 million in total pay increases to public school personnel on a permanent basis without a tax increase,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow), co-chair of the Senate Appropriations/ Base Budget Committee.