NC Senate plan would raise average teacher pay to $55K

RALEIGH, N.C. – How much North Carolina pays teachers takes center stage at the General Assembly Wednesday as the powerful leaders of the North Carolina Senate announced details for their teacher pay plan.

Phil Berger, the Senate president pro tempore, held the news conference with other Senate leaders.

The Senate plan would move average teacher pay to nearly $55,000 in the next two years, which is higher than the House proposal for $50,000. Berger said the plan would not require a tax increase. It also would not impact teacher assistants.

“We think that this is the right plan for teachers in North Carolina at this time,” Berger said. “We think that this is something that is fully within the capacity of the state of North Carolina in terms of the budget availability.”

Berger said the increase would make North Carolina “the Southeast’s leader in teacher pay.”

State leaders have been looking at how to raise pay for teachers, a politically sensitive issue in a key election year. Republicans have pushed for teacher raises but Democrats have argued the plans don’t give teachers enough.

Pay has been a hot topic in the state in recent years, with education leaders saying the state has lagged behind in teacher pay and school administrators from other states swooping into North Carolina to raid teachers.

Starting pay for teachers has risen in recent years. Here’s the starting pay by academic year for recent years, according to the North Carolina Department of Instruction:

  • 2015-16: $35,000
  • 2014-15: $33,000
  • 2013-14: $30,800
  • 2012-13: $30,800
  • 2011-12: $30,430
  • 2010-11: $30,430
  • 2009-10: $30,430
  • 2008-09: $30,430
  • 2007-08: $29,750

Teachers in many counties also get a supplement from the county.

Teacher advocates have pushed for higher salaries, saying educators got stuck with little or no raises during the Great Recession and salaries are now lagging.

Gov. Pat McCrory, in unveiling his budget proposal in April, called for teacher salaries to raise to above an average of $50,000 and give them bonuses that averaged 3.5 percent.

Under McCrory’s plan, all current teachers with up to 24 years of experience — or 84 percent of the workforce — would get permanent raises next school year from $500 to $5,000, according to McCrory’s plan. Teachers also would reach the top-scale salary of $50,000 sooner — in their 20th year, compared to 25 years today.

The North Carolina House budget would give teachers raises of an average of 4 percent.

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