Teachers get raises in new state budget

·3 min read

Aug. 5—HENDERSON — Vance County Schools Superintendent Cindy Bennett said this week a pay increase for teachers, albeit modest, was "very much appreciated" by the teachers in her district.

Last month, Gov. Roy Cooper signed off on the two-year, $27.9 billion state budget, which included an average 4.2% raise for public school teachers along with a teacher bonus program. The budget also included $56 million for the opportunity scholarship program that gives state funds for students to attend private schools.

Beginning public school teacher yearly salaries will now start at $37,000, which is about $2,000 higher than the previous starting figure.

Bennett said the legislature addressed the need to increase teacher salaries as well as the shortage of teachers around the state.

"With a great shortage of teachers right now," Bennett said, "there really is no drive or motivation for people to go into schools of education to become teachers when you look at a starting salary that's below $40,000, in all honesty.

"They know there's a shortage, so how could we help that pipeline? So let's at least show that we are trying to increase the salary. For those that are here, let's give them a little increase as well so hopefully they'll stay."

All public K-12 teachers are getting a raise, but the average-increase figure depends on where a teacher falls on the state schedule salary, which has built-in, yearly salary increases, determined by "steps" that are based on years of experience.

When teachers hit the 15-24-years-of-experience mark, the increases stop until year 25 when they resume.

"Although funding does not necessarily come at the same time that things are legislated," Bennett said, "it's always then retro to July 1, which is the beginning of our fiscal year."

The state budget also includes $2,800 in bonuses for teachers and $100 million for teacher supplements.

Vance County is receiving $2,482 in teacher supplement assistance per state-funded teacher in addition to $1.1 million in county-allocated supplements and benefits.

Those supplement numbers are dependent on the number of teachers in a county. For Warren County, the figures are $2,669 and $439,259. For Granville County, it's $1,510 and $897,030.

Counties like Wake and Mecklenburg get no money under the plan since they are already able to offer significantly larger supplements through local tax dollars.

Reporting for EdNC, which covers public education matters around the state, Alex Granados offered the following breakdown of the budget bonuses:

Teachers and principals will also be getting bonuses delivered in various ways.

First, any state employee making less than $75,000 a year gets a $1,500 bonus and any state employee making more than that gets a $1,000 bonus. So, teachers should be getting a $1,500 bonus under that plan and most principals will be getting a $1,000 bonus.

In addition, teachers will get another $1,000 bonus, as well as an additional $300 that is repurposed money for merit-based bonuses that can't be given this year because of a lack of valid accountability data thanks to COVID-19 disruptions. Principals will get another $1,800 bonus. The end result is that most teachers and principals should get $2,800 in bonuses.

Non-certified education personnel will be getting the $1,500 bonus for state employees.