Last Monday, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis, Governor Pat McCrory, Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and Senate Leader Phil Berger announced plans to increase starting teacher salaries in North Carolina. The plan would make North Carolina’s starting teachers among the highest in the Southeast.
While it’s “wonderful” for the state government to recognize the value of attracting and retaining teachers who are just beginning their careers, Anson County Schools Superintendent Michael Freeman said he’s concerned that the plan does nothing for veteran teachers.
“After months of working together, we are announcing the FIRST PHASE in our effort to address teacher salary issues and raise starting teacher pay from its current level of $30,800 to $35,000 over the next two years,” said Speaker Tillis. “The entry-level pay plan is a starting point to ensure North Carolina can recruit and retain the best and brightest entering the teaching profession.”
The plan would increase pay for entry-level teachers by 13 percent over the next two years. That would make new teacher salaries near the national average and also position North Carolina as a leader in the Southeast for starting teacher pay, according to a press release from Speaker Tillis’s office. Funding for the proposed raises will come from additional and available revenues and will not require a tax increase.
“The concern I have is, what are we going to do for our veteran teachers?” Freeman said. “We’ve got neighboring states who are willing to compensate our veteran teachers so we are at risk of losing them.”
Rep. Mark Brody, who represents Anson and Union counties, said, “My colleagues and I have taken the first step to improving teacher pay in North Carolina but we have more work ahead of us. We will be diligently working over the next couple weeks to increase pay for not only more teachers, but state law enforcement and other state employees as well.”
Plans were also announced that would extend supplemental pay for teachers with master’s degrees to those who have completed coursework in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013.
“I do appreciate what they’re doing,” Freeman said, “but we need more. We need someone to step up for education in Raleigh. The teaching profession needs to be recognized and appreciated.”