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‘We’re Not Paying Our Teachers As Much As Surrounding States': Panel Will Review

Teacher in classroom surrounded by students via Flickr

If there's one thing likely to come out of the legislative session this year, it's to figure out a way to improve teacher pay.

A new 18-member panel that will help advise North Carolina lawmakers on the topic made its final appointees this week. The group includes representatives, senators, a principal, community members and teachers.

According to the bill, the committee was created last year by the House and Senate for two reasons:

  1. to consider a statewide model of incentives to help recruit and retain teachers
  2. to brainstorm a different pay structure for teachers

The group will have a lot to think about – teachers haven’t seen a significant pay raise since 2008 and lawmakers enacted many changes last year impacting teachers.
Tenure, or career status, will be eliminated by 2018 and replaced by a contract system. Under the new law, school districts will reward their top 25 percent of teachers with four-year contracts and a $500 annual pay raise.

Lawmakers also ended bonus pay for teachers with advanced degrees.

Republican Representative Rob Bryan will co-chair of the panel to advise the General Assembly on changes in teacher pay, and says the mission is to recruit, reward and retain:

We hope to discuss things like base salary. You hear people [say] ‘We’re not paying our incoming teachers as much as the surrounding states,’ and I think that’s a great starting point in conversation because that is important in recruiting teachers.
That's going to be the real debate among us all, is how to best implement and execute more pay and more compensation for teachers. - Governor Pat McCrory

Governor Pat McCrory also shared his thoughts on the topic this week, saying that he’ll seek raises for teachers this year and hopes to overhaul the pay structure. The challenge, however, will be finding money to make those pay increases happen.  

“That’s going to be the real debate among us all, is how to best implement and execute more pay and more compensation for teachers,” he recently told state lawmakers at a retreat hosted by the Hunt Institute.

Meanwhile, the panel will have until April 15th to give its own thoughts and recommendations to the General Assembly. A first meeting has not yet been scheduled.  

Reema Khrais joined WUNC in 2013 to cover education in pre-kindergarten through high school. Previously, she won the prestigious Joan B. Kroc Fellowship. For the fellowship, she spent a year at NPR where she reported nationally, produced on Weekends on All Things Considered and edited on the digital desk. She also spent some time at New York Public Radio as an education reporter, covering the overhaul of vocational schools, the contentious closures of city schools and age-old high school rivalries.
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