North Carolina schools chief seeks teacher raises, bonuses
Posted January 27, 2016
Updated January 28, 2016
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina's public schools superintendent wants raises for all teachers and $10,000 bonuses for experienced educators who coach fellow teachers or work to turn around low-performing classrooms.
State schools superintendent June Atkinson went to the legislature Wednesday to present what will likely be a bi-partisan, election-year push to raise teacher salaries that now lag near the bottom in the country.
Legislators have raised teacher pay in each of the past two years, focusing on early-career educators, but Atkinson said much more is needed.
North Carolina ranked 47th in the country for average salaries for public school teachers, according to the most recent estimate by the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union. A first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree and no special certifications is due to make $35,000 during the current academic year, while 20-year veterans get $46,500 a year, state records show.
The elected Democrat said the Republican-run General Assembly would define how many teachers would be eligible for the bonuses, and urged them to make each worth about $10,000 to motivate teachers to take on tougher assignments.
Also, because teachers commonly work in teams to improve academic performance, lawmakers should reward all teachers at schools that exceed expectations, she said.
These kinds of bonuses are already offered by better-financed school districts, while classrooms in poorer areas are left out, Atkinson said.
"The only consistency is inconsistency across the state," she said before the committee hearing.