Education

NC superintendent releases budget wish list, including 5-7% teacher pay raises

Posted March 7, 2019 5:03 p.m. EST
Updated March 7, 2019 5:57 p.m. EST

— North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson has released a list of his education priorities and budget recommendations for the General Assembly to consider, including raising teacher pay anywhere from 5 to 7 percent.

He published his full list of priorities and budget suggestions Thursday on his website, ncsuperintendent.com.

Johnson first revealed his list of priorities last month during an event at the Raleigh Convention Center, which drew a crowd of about 700 people, including educators, lawmakers and business leaders. His list now includes specific budget requests for lawmakers to consider.

Among his most expensive requests for 2019-20:

  • $82 million in recurring and non-recurring funds for school safety and mental health professionals and training
  • $73 million to create professional teaching cohorts for the entire state
  • $57 million in needs-based public school capital fund
  • $50 million in principal pay raises
  • $30 million to create modern and transparent financial and business systems
  • $16 million in textbook funding
  • $15 million to raise the cap on special needs funding from 12.75 percent to 13.5 percent
  • $11 million in school safety equipment and training grants
  • $10 million to eliminate high-stress standardized testing

Calling it his "NC2030 plan," Johnson said the list of priorities came from his two years of traveling the state visiting schools since he was elected in 2016.

On Wednesday, Gov. Roy Cooper rolled out his $25.2 billion budget proposal for the coming year and proposed 9.1 percent average raises for teachers over the next two years, with every teacher getting at least 3 percent.

Last month, Johnson unveiled two new initiatives, including the North Carolina Leadership Dashboard, an online tool that will launch next school year and is being built with support from The Wallace Foundation. The dashboard will allow school leaders to search for teachers and principals they want to hire based on certain characteristics, such as what subjects they teach, how experienced they are, what licenses they hold, etc.

His second initiative is a collaboration among the Department of Public Instruction, BEST NC and Teach.org, with support from the Belk Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Coastal Credit Union. “Teach NC,” launching this spring, is a "public-private teacher appreciation campaign to better align the image of the teaching profession with the fruitful, fulfilling career it is and develop a statewide teacher-recruitment system to attract the next generation of North Carolina teachers."

Overall, Johnson identified four broad metrics and said North Carolina needs to see an increase every year in:

  • Four-year-olds engaged in high-quality kindergarten readiness programs
  • Fourth graders reading on grade level
  • Students who, after graduation, are on track to their chosen, fulfilling career
  • Recruits to education professions and educators remaining in N.C. public schools