NC school districts encouraged but concerned about state budget

Posted June 17, 2014

— Leaders from four North Carolina school districts held a news conference Tuesday, thanking state lawmakers for their efforts to raise teacher pay but urging them to reconsider some of the paths to get there.

Speaking on behalf of a consortium of the state’s 10 largest school districts, superintendents from school systems in Cumberland, Johnston, New Hanover and Wake counties said they couldn’t stand to lose teaching assistants under a Senate plan that calls for roughly half of the positions in elementary schools to be eliminated to offset the cost.

“Creating salary increases by slashing other areas (of education) is not a formula for academic success,” Tim Markley, superintendent of New Hanover County Schools, said.

In exchange for the cuts, the Senate budget would give an average raise of about $5,800 – depending on seniority – to teachers who voluntarily relinquish their rights to career status, commonly referred to as tenure.

The House plan, approved Friday, promises an average 5 percent teacher pay raise by boosting the amount of money coming from the state lottery. It does not cut teaching assistant positions, and unlike the Senate budget, House members do not tie the prospect of raises to relinquishing tenure.

Because lottery money can be used to pay school debt, Johnston County Schools Superintendent Ed Croom said, school districts would be forced to reallocate funding from other spending areas.

“It just creates a situation in a budget where you’re taking from one and giving to another,” he said.

Still, leaders said they are encouraged that the two proposals, as well as one from Gov. Pat McCrory call for pay raises.

“We believe state leaders are having the right kind of discussions,” Wake County Public School System Superintendent Jim Merrill said.

Markley and Merrill said teachers in the state have gone more than five years without a meaningful increase, and that’s made it difficult to fill positions.

“If you fail to invest in your employees, they leave,” Merrill said. “This what superintendents are seeing as we prepare for the upcoming school year.”

Merrill said his district could be facing as many as 1,000 open teaching positions for the 2014 fall semester.


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  • tracmister Jun 17, 2014

    Any argument can be made not to pay teachers. Regardless of the argument, if you don't pay them, it will be the good ones who leave the profession for higher paying jobs. Second, if you really want to understand the problems, shift focus on discipline issues in school and why principals aren't suspending them. How about why charter schools are allowed to tout smaller class sizes but the NCGOP keeps making cuts to increase them. How about having the legislatures take the high school common core tests and see how many of them pass them to see if the test is valid to begin with.

  • Doug Pawlak Jun 17, 2014
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    Yes, NEA is a union. But they have no power here in NC and neither does NCAE which is not a union. Again, this is why NC teacher pay is at the bottom of the nation and it's also why states that have unions that have power get paid better and........also have generally better results. One would think that for all the ultra conservative attack on teacher's unions, even in a state that doesn't have one, they could at least show actual evidence of it being overall harmful. All I see is over simplifications and the pretense that the exceptions are the rule. You guys are amazing.

  • Doug Pawlak Jun 17, 2014
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    Civitas, where you got that quote from, is then also a "union", as it also gives money to political causes and is funded by voluntary contributions just like NCAE.

  • joycejunior Jun 17, 2014

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    Go live in Antarctica so you don't have to worry about unwise expenditures of your tax dollars.

  • Alex25 Jun 17, 2014

    Why?? Govt and thus Govt schools do not spend the money we give them wisely as it now. They never have.

    Outcomes are not about money, or more money -- TAX PAYER money.

  • Terry Watts Jun 17, 2014
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    A person paying for membership to an organization doesn't make that organization a Union. Or are you arguing that the NRA, with its clear political agenda and required membership dues, is a Union? How about the Fraternal Order of the Police? I can list a hundred different professional Associations that represent its members in one way or another, and not a single one of those could be classified as a Union...

  • yankee1 Jun 17, 2014

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    If it's not acting as a union, why do they collect dues?

  • lessismore Jun 17, 2014

    Why is teachers pay the number one focus in this years budget??? For 100 years under democrats nothing was done to help that's all everyone is concerned with.....

  • Dee Sides Jun 17, 2014
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    NC is a right to work state and there are no unions allowed. NCAE is an educational organization. When teachers pay dues to NCAE, they are not paying dues to NEA.

  • Mo Blues Jun 17, 2014

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    My plumber comes when I call 24/7, competently does what I need done, and goes away when he's finished. I don't have to support the state's plumbing needs and have his salary routed through the government bureaucracy.