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Gov. Cooper visits Northern Guilford High to promote budget proposal, higher teacher pay

Governor Roy Cooper presented his 2023-2024 budget proposal which would include a 16% pay raise for teachers and 9.5% for classified employees.

SUMMERFIELD, N.C. — Right now, the current base salary for a teacher in North Carolina is $37,000.

Governor Roy Cooper says that is not enough when it comes to attracting and retaining qualified teachers. 

The Governor visited with students at Northern Guilford High School on Thursday.  

After visiting with health and technology classes, he spoke to staff and teachers about his budget proposal for the next fiscal year. 

Cooper is proposing a 16% increase in teacher pay over the next two years. 

That would bump the starting salary to $46,000 per year. 

The Governor is also proposing a 9.5% increase for classified staff such as councilors, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers. 

A retention bonus and restoring masters pay are also included in the Governor's proposed budget. 

"We have had some really good teachers that have said 'I've had enough, I just can't take it anymore' and I've talked to them and I know what those challenges are so we have to meet the moment. We have to make sure that we send the gingal that this is a respected profession," said Governor Cooper. 

As the state teacher of the year, Leah Carper travels across North Carolina. 

She has spoken with aspiring teachers with a passion for education. 

However, she's also heard the stories of those struggling just to keep a roof over their head. 

"If we continue to use the no good teacher wants to get paid a lot of money, they do it out of their heart, you know what, there are a lot of businesses and people who love their job who can pay their mortgage," said Carper.

Governor Cooper says the bump in pay and support for teachers is going to be essential to training the next generation. 

Toyota President Sean Suggs was in the audience for Cooper's announcement. 

Suggs says their new Toyota Battery plant at the Guilford-Randolph Megasite will need a strong workforce, something he says starts in the classroom. 

"We had to make the tough decisions to come to this region and one of those was education from the public school perspective all the way up to the university and colleges. This is a really good example of us building that pipeline," said Suggs.

Cooper said his budget will help to fill 5,000 teacher positions currently open throughout the state. 

The governor's budget proposal and push for teacher raises will likely lead to a showdown with the Republican-led legislature which ultimately writes the budget. 

Both Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore call the Governor's proposal, unrealistic. 

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