State budget allows for teacher pay increase

Aug. 06, 2014 @ 10:24 AM

Public school teachers across the state will receive pay raises as a part of a $21 billion budget passed by the Republican-led N.C. House of Representatives on Friday.

On average, teachers will receive a seven percent salary increase.

“Certainly, I think it's very positive that legislators recognize our teachers deserve an increase,” Davidson County Schools superintendent Dr. Lory Morrow said. “We're still in the process of analyzing how it will affect our teachers.”

The pay increase comes at a time when public outcry regarding the salaries of teachers has reached its loudest point in quite some time. Among last year's significant setbacks for teachers, one in particular gave rise to the outcry. The state's decision to cut out incentives for teachers who obtain their master's degree was widely unpopular.

Teachers who obtained a master's degree prior to Aug. 1, 2013 were “grandfathered” into their pay scale. Those who received higher education after that date derived no additional financial benefit from the degree.

The seven percent raise brings North Carolina teachers out from among the five most stingy states – in terms of teacher salaries – to a level of compensation many Republicans boast is among the highest in the Southeast. The state jumps from 46th to 32nd in the national rankings.

While Dr. Morrow was happy to see the teachers get what she believes they deserve, she thinks the government stopped short of reaching an ideal arrangement for the education system.

“I'm excited that legislators recognize our educators,” Morrow said. “I would certainly like to see them recognize other educators ... because everybody plays a critical role in organization. I also hope that they will, at some point, reconsider reinstating master's pay. Because we are all lifelong learners in this profession, and by asking teachers to continue their education, I think it's the least we can do.”

The pay increase for teachers did not come without a cost. Cuts to health and welfare programs and other state spending were among several cuts made to balance the budget. A large percentage of the funding for the increase will be drawn from lottery proceeds, from which the state will allocate $34 million.

Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3578, or at kennedy@tvilletimes.com.