Lawmakers look at pay incentives for NC teachers
Posted February 25
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina lawmakers, school leaders and parents are considering whether teachers can be better rewarded for performance through a statewide incentives package.
The Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force met with state lawmakers for the first time Tuesday and hopes to make some recommendations regarding teacher pay by mid-April.
Finding a better way to link teacher and administrator performance to salaries has been a hot topic since Republicans took over the legislature in 2011. Teachers used to get bonuses based on student scores on standardized tests.
"Education is a team sport. It seems we start rewarding individual teachers rather than the whole group of teachers and making everyone feel whole," said Timothy Barnsback, a Burke County teacher and president of Professional Educators of North Carolina. "We have to do that before we can move on to talk about the larger term. We’re suffering whiplash in the classroom. There have been so many changes.”
Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, said across-the-board raises for teachers and step increases based on experience are likely things of the past in North Carolina.
Incentives must be "part of real pay from now on for teachers," said Tillman, who co-chairs the Senate Education Committee.
"There will be many incentives in there, from contributing to the goals of your school to being a good team member," he said. "But the most important part is what are you doing with the kids you’re teaching? Are they making any progress or not?"
The discussion comes as North Carolina school teachers have received one raise since 2008. Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders this month pledged to raise salaries of the least-experienced teachers. McCrory said that pay change is a first step.
Under the current state base pay scale, it takes a teacher 16 years to reach a $40,000 salary. All but 11 of the 115 public school districts in North Carolina supplement the state pay, depending on factors such as a teacher's experience and professional credentials.
Supplements average $3,728 but vary from $100 to $6,441.
"It’s apparent that we have almost two North Carolinas,” said Rep. George Graham, D-Lenoir.
Graham said rural districts can't afford the supplements needed to attract science and math teachers, who are in high demand, and likely will need state and federal support to compete.
"We probably need to think about a state contribution to a fund that you can tap into on a matching basis," Tillman said, suggesting that poorer counties receive a higher state match for funding.