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Educators Welcome Proposed Hike In Teacher Wages

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RALEIGH, N.C. — State lawmakers are looking at an across-the-board 8-percent pay increase. Many say a big salary increase is long overdue, while others say it's just what the state needs to sell more teaching jobs.

"I think we can say without question this is the strongest education budget ever seen in the history of North Carolina," said Gov. Mike Easley.

Easley has earmarked $10.7 billion for education. Part of that would support a 8 percent pay raise for teachers.

"He's finally doing what he said he was going to do," said Jennifer Lanane, with the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Over the past five years, teacher raises have been modest.

"The fact that we got a little bit, it was a good-faith gesture and we appreciated that," said Lanane. "Now we have the money, and now it's time and it's happening."

The national average for a classroom teacher is almost $49,000 a year. Teachers in North Carolina make nearly $44,000. An 8 percent increase is significant, but some said it still doesn't put North Carolina where it should be.

However, recruiters say the increase would definitely help getting more teachers into the system. North Carolina schools are looking for 12,000 to 13,000 teachers each year. Next year alone, Wake County schools must fill about 1,000 open teaching positions. Universities only produce about 3,500 possible candidates a year statewide.

"We have to go outside of the state to get teachers, and we have to pull from a pool of teachers that are making above the national average, so it will make recruiting easier because we have more to offer," said Lanane.

For now, teachers say they will just have to be patient to find out if that 8 percent really makes it into their pockets.

"We'll wait and see," said Lanane. "Politics is politics."


Erin Coleman, Reporter
Ken Bodine, Photographer
Dana Franks, Web Editor

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