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Teachers Brace For Budget Cuts

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As leaders in state government haggle over what to include – or not include – in the final budget, teachers across North Carolina are concerned about their jobs and their salaries. 

Teacher salaries in North Carolina have not moved much in recent years. Most of that has been due to the recession. But as other states begin to increase teacher salaries as the economy improves, North Carolina has cut teacher salaries by more than 15 percent.

The result has been a drop in the state’s ranking of teacher salaries. After raising salaries enough to rank near the middle of the pack five years ago, North Carolina has dropped 20 spots and is now 46th in teacher salaries, behind many of its neighbors.

“The reality is it would take about a four percent salary increase just to get to South Carolina,” said Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. “And that’s a concern because we are not able to attract and retain the best and brightest educators for the students of North Carolina.”

Neither the proposed Senate or House budgets would give teachers raises. Governor McCrory’s would give all state employees a one percent raise.

The Senate budget would also eliminate the salary increase that comes when teachers earn advanced degrees.

“There are really no other avenues for educators, particularly during the salary freeze, that can increase their revenue,” said Ellis. “The only way they’ve been able to do that is by pursuing additional certification or degrees. It creates a hardship for those who have gone through the process and are now going to be denied the opportunity to pursue that additional salary.”

The State Senate’s proposed budget also would cut thousands of teacher assistant jobs.

Dave DeWitt is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Politics and Education. As an editor, reporter, and producer he's covered politics, environment, education, sports, and a wide range of other topics.
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