Brittney Burns – Staff Writer
Teacher pay in North Carolina has been a campaign promise for every politician, a party platform for both Democrats and Republicans, and a priority in every legislative session over the last few years. This year, there is a bi-partisan push to give all teachers and state employees in the state a $2,400 raise. Representative Kevin Corbin supports the proposal and even sponsored House Bill 540, which established the proposal.
If passed, HB 540 would cost about $700 million and would give every teacher and state employee currently making less than $100,000 a $2,400 a year raise. The raise wouldn’t be a bonus or one time incentive, but rather an across the board annual increase.
The House Bill co-sponsored by Corbin is close to what Gov. Roy Cooper is proposing. According to a news release from Cooper’s office, in his recommended budget for 2017-2019, the governor calls for an additional $271 million investment each of the next two years to raise teacher salaries. That equates to a more than 5 percent average increase for teachers in 2017-18 and again in 2018-19.
“It’s time to put our money where our trust is and pay teachers like the professionals they are,” Cooper stated in the release. “We need to pay teachers more at all stages of their career—from teachers just starting out to mid-career teachers to veteran teachers with many years of experience in the classroom.”
Instead of an across the board raise like the House is proposing, Cooper proposed a raise for every salary step for teachers. Teachers at every salary step would get a minimum raise of at least 3 percent and as much as 7 percent in both years of the proposed two-year budget. Teachers in years one through 15 of their profession would see their salaries grow by at least 5 percent each year.
The Senate’s education committee passed a bill to expand the teacher bonus program to give teacher merit-bonuses rather than a full raise. Senate Bill 169 “would clarify and expand those programs to ensure teachers who achieved top scores last school year – but who have since been reassigned to other teaching roles in their schools – receive bonuses for which they would have otherwise been eligible.”