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Governor Proposes Major Pay Increase For Principals And Teachers, $2 Billion Statewide School Construction Bond Referendum

Governor Roy Cooper today released his 2018-2019 state budget proposal that includes significant increases in several key public school funding components, including pay raises for teachers and principals and launching a $2 billion statewide school bond referendum this fall.

At a press conference this afternoon, the Governor released his budget proposal for the second year of the biennium ahead of the General Assembly’s opening of the 2018 short session that begins Wednesday, May 16. In discussing highlights of his budget, he focused on several increases he is proposing in state spending for K-12 schools, as well as some policy changes he thinks are needed for public education. These proposals are part of an 8.1% overall increase of $1.1 billion in education spending for K-12 schools, community colleges and universities that the Governor is recommending for the next fiscal year beginning July 1. The public school highlights of his proposed budget include the following:

  • Teacher and Principal Pay – Adds $112 million to the $276 million already budgeted to cover an 8% increase on average for teachers, while ensuring no teacher gets a raise of less than 5%, and moving NC’s teacher pay to the national average in four years. This funding includes $13 million to create a new pay schedule for principals based on school size and years of experience as a principal and providing an 8% bump in their base pay. It also includes nonrecurring funds to extend the hold harmless protections to prevent a pay loss for any principal. Assistant principals would see a 2% increase in pay under this proposal, moving them to 19% above teachers on the teacher ”A” pay schedule.
  • Pay for Other Educators – Directs $366 million for pay increases for state employees and public school personnel, including noncertified staff and those in the central office, to provide each the higher of $1,250 or 2%, plus five bonus leave days that would not expire.
  • Retirees – Proposes a 1% cost of living adjustment for all state retirees.
  • School Safety – Proposes the $130 million package of school safety enhancements the Governor had unveiled on April 19 that includes additional funding for school resource officers and school counselors, psychologists, social workers and nurses; school facility security enhancements and other changes.
  • School Construction and Renovation – Proposes putting a $2 billion school bond referendum on the November 2018 ballot to let voters determine if the state should assist local counties in addressing a portion of the more than $8.1 billion backlog in school facility needs that was identified prior to recent state mandates capping class size in grades K-3. Also would dedicate $75 million in additional lottery funds to help counties and school districts in creating the additional classrooms that will be required for the mandated lower class sizes in K-3.
  • Professional Development – Restores a state allotment that would provide $5 million to school districts for providing ongoing training for teachers and principals as well as providing almost $1 million for specific professional development initiatives that include $250,000 for the Distinguished Leadership in Practice and $75,000 for the Future Ready Leadership programs provided by the N.C. Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association, and $300,000 for the computer science professional development initiative led by the Friday Institute at N.C. State University.
  • Textbooks and Digital Resources – Increases the current state allotment by $25 million.
  • Academically and Intellectually Gifted – Provides $3 million for a new grant program to enhance AIG offerings for under-served students who include those from low-income families, English language learners and others.
  • Early Childhood – Proposes more than $10 million to add 2,000 more pre-kindergarten slots and increases Smart Start funding by $15 million.
  • Private School Vouchers – Proposes halting the planned state expansion of the Opportunity Scholarships, commonly known as vouchers, that cover enrollment at private schools by certain populations of students. This program is now set to expand by $10 million annually until reaching an annual state investment of $144 million.
  • Teaching Fellows – Expands the reinstated scholarship program, which now is limited to students who agree to teach in science, technology and mathematics (STEM), to students who agree to teach in any subject.
  • Classroom Supplies – Proposes a $150 stipend for teachers to cover the supplies they need for their classrooms each year but now often cover with their personal funds.
  • Department of Public Instruction – Proposes halting the $4.1 million reduction that is now slated for DPI in 2018-19.

The Governor indicated his hope that the General Assembly will address these same priorities in the budget proposal that the House and Senate will be drafting and approving during the 2018 short session, although it is likely their plan will look very different.

The North Carolina Association of School Administrators (NCASA) will provide additional updates on the state budget for 2018-2019 and developments occur.

 

Katherine Joyce for NCASA