GREENSBORO, N.C. – Governor Pat McCrory announced Wednesday a proposal that will increase teacher pay across the state.
In a news conference at North Carolina A&T State University, McCrory said, his budget for the next fiscal year, will include an increase in base pay for teachers, which would be no less than $35,000.
Teachers currently making the base pay of $30,800 will get about a 7% raise to $33,000 next year and then be bumped to $35,000 the next year.
McCrory says all other teachers will get an average 2% increase in pay, including state employees who will get a flat $1,000 raise with benefits.
For the long term, the governor is also proposing what he calls a "Career Pathways for Teachers" program which will increase pay for teachers based on a new pay scale and bonuses for advanced degrees, certification and performance.
The program would be fully implemented, statewide by the 2017-18 school year; budgeting has already started, the governor said.
"Let me make a special point. As governor, all future revenue that we come in, with this growing economy in North Carolina, and it's finally starting to grow, it will be prioritized for this program ahead of any new spending and any future tax changes after the year 2016."
School districts across the state will have the option to "join" the program when and how they want. The governor also noted that if the Career Pathways program is implemented, it would not mean automatic raises for teachers who aren't meeting expectations.
Currently, North Carolina school teachers' salary is ranked 46th in the nation. McCrory acknowledged that the base pay increase isn't as much as teachers want, but said it is a beginning.
"Every week of the year and this is the beginning of that process to appreciate teachers and realize that teachers have such an important role in our future economic development and the future development of every student in North Carolina," McCrory said during his announcement.
Several supporters including state officials, business leaders and school superintendents joined him for the announcement.
Guilford County Schools Superintendent Maurice Green says the district will consider opting into Career Pathways.
Hundreds of the district's teachers have resigned in the last two years and Green says he hopes the new plan will help retain more teachers in the classroom.
"I certainly think this is a path forward for teachers in North Carolina. There's a lot of work that will need to be done to take the framework of a plan and put the meat on it," Green said.
Others, however, are skeptical about the plan's success and how it will be funded.
Dr. Anthony Graham, Dean of curriculum and instructions at NC A&T's school of education said, the plan addresses symptoms and not the disease. He explained by saying while Career Pathways will help teachers earn more sooner in their career, they will eventually plateau and have to look for more money outside the classroom as cost of living increases.
"It's a good idea in theory. Where we need to see if implementation," Graham said.
McCrory also announced his budget included a $46 million for new textbook in North Carolina classrooms. That is double the amount allotted in the current budget. The governor says he is increasing the textbook budget because several educators across the state complained there was too much focus on digital classrooms and that transition takes time.
McCrory also plans allocate an additional $3.6 million for expanding early childhood education.
The governor will present his budget to the state legislature when lawmakers reconvene next week.