RALEIGH, N.C. — Although it is still unclear how many teaching positions could be cut because of the state's long-awaited budget, educators are just now learning that their salary for the upcoming school year will be the same as last year.
The state has shifted salary schedules for all public-school employees, meaning their salaries are frozen and bonuses are cut.
Educators have known that the state's reduced spending plan could mean job cuts, but Sheri Strickland, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators, said Tuesday that many were surprised to find out about their salaries.
"We still want to recruit and retain the best people to teach the children in North Carolina," she said. "Not being able to keep up with the national average for teacher salaries makes that more difficult."
Although disappointed, Strickland said most school employees understand the economic reality of a multibillion-dollar budget shortfall.
"Given the place we started at the beginning of the General Assembly session, we ended up in a much better place than we potentially could have," Strickland said.
Gov. Bev Perdue said Tuesday that salaries remain frozen for all state workers.
"There's no way you can have a conversation about pay raises, although any state employee, teacher and educator I know deserves it," Perdue said.
"With that, the good comes (that) we saved thousands of jobs from being cut," she continued.
The number of teacher cuts statewide is still unclear, because those decisions will be made locally.
Perdue has asked for each district to provide her with a financial report so she can make sure federal stimulus money is being used to maintain teachers and keep class sizes from growing.
"I find it hard to believe that teachers won't have more students and more work for less money than they thought they'd have," said Parry Graham, principal at Lufkin Middle School in Apex. "They will rise to the challenge, but that's going to be tough.