Education

State school board pushes for principal pay raises after seeing 'startling' salaries

Posted November 2
Updated November 3

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— The chairman of the State Board of Education on Wednesday said board members "need to encourage and prod the General Assembly to take action" to increase the pay of public school administrators in the state.

Chairman Bill Cobey's comments came after a presentation showing how pay for principals and assistant principals has changed over the years.

North Carolina ranks 50th in the nation, including Washington, D.C., for principal pay. Under the state's pay structure, some teachers are paid more than assistant principals.

"I think the General Assembly’s going to be very serious about correcting this," Cobey said. "We should be concerned here, because leadership in school is so important."

State school board member Becky Taylor called the salaries "startling" and "astounding" and said "it really brought out how severe it has been" for public school leaders.

"How in the world do we even have assistant principals in our state?" she said.

Lawmakers have begun to discuss the issue. Last week, a joint legislative study committee on school-based administrator pay unveiled a preliminary proposal to reform the way North Carolina pays its principals, according to EducationNC.

The committee, co-chaired by Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, presented a plan that would eliminate the principal salary schedule and replace it with an allotment that superintendents can use as they see fit to hire principals.

The allotment for principals would be based on statewide average principal pay. The salary schedule for assistant principals would also be scrapped and replaced with a new salary schedule.

In addition, the plan would increase average pay for principals and assistant principals and provide funds for performance bonuses and to reduce the pay gap between high-wealth and low-wealth school districts.

Tillman said the total amount of money available from the state for principal and assistant principal pay would need to go up about three to five percent “at a minimum.” But he also said between $8 and $10 million would be needed above and beyond that to use for performance bonuses.

Tillman said the goal of the committee was to develop a budget provision that could be introduced in the upcoming long session of the General Assembly. He predicted there would likely be at least three meetings of the committee.

EducationNC reporter Alex Granados contributed to this report.

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