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What Might Teacher Pay Look Like Next Year? Here Are Three Proposals

Wake County bus driver Auh Murel Wright greets a student before the afternoon trip home. Wright is among many school-based employees who struggle to make ends meet on their current salaries.
Jess Clark
Wake County bus driver Auh-Murel Wright greets a student before the afternoon trip home. Wright is among many school-based employees who struggle to make ends meet on their current salaries.

Now that the state House has released its plan for teacher pay, there are three plans before lawmakers as they continue budget negotiations. Here are the basic differences:


Governor Roy Cooper's plan calls for $271 million to give teachers in every year of their career raises of about 5 percent in each of the next two fiscal years. It also calls for a 6.5 percent increase for principals and assistant principals.

The governor also wants to give school employees a 2 percent raise or an $800 increase, whichever is greater, plus a nonrecurring $500 bonus.


The Senate plan would spend $130 million in the next fiscal year to give teachers raises ranging from 0 to 4.8 percent, depending on years of experience. Teachers entering years 9 through 14 of their careers would see the largest increases. Teachers with 25 years of experience or more would see no pay increases. The plan calls for an additional $360 million in the second fiscal year for teacher raises. The second year of the biannual budget is usually renegotiated.

The Senate plan completely overhauls principal pay. Instead of paying principals based on years of experience, the plan would compensate principals based on how well their students perform on state standardized tests. Principals running the largest schools, and whose students exceed expected growth on state tests, would make at least $89,000. The plan would also boost the base pay to around $62,000.  Assistant principals would see a 13 percent increase. The Senate has proposed to pay for these increases with the lottery fund.

For school employees, the Senate has proposed a 1.5 percent increase or $750, whichever is greater.


The House plan would give teachers increases ranging from 0.6-6.7 percent, based on years of experience. Most teachers would see increases of less than 3 percent, but those entering their 17th, 18th , 19th, 23rd and 24th years would get bigger pay boosts. Teachers with 25 years or more would see pay increases of around $300, and those with more than 27 years would get a $2,500 bonus for staying another two years. The plan puts aside another $105 million for increases in the second half of the biennium.

Like the Senate plan, the House plan would also overhaul principal pay. As in the Senate plan, it would increase the base rate substantially, to around $61,000. But while the Senate plans to pay principals based on student test scores, the House wants to pay them based on the percentage of students on free or reduced lunch. Principals running larger schools with high percentages of low-income students would receive the highest pay. They would cap out at about $76,000, much lower than the highest possible base pay under the Senate proposal. Assistant principals would see raises of 22 percent.

When it comes to school employees, the House has proposed an across-the-board $1,000 pay increase.

Jess is WUNC's Fletcher Fellow for Education Policy Reporting. Her reporting focuses on how decisions made at the North Carolina General Assembly affect the state's students, families, teachers and communities.
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