N.C. Senate rolls out teacher pay plan

N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger announced a teacher pay plan Wednesday that would boost average salaries by 11 percent, but didn’t say where the $468 million to pay for it would come from.

Senate leaders will release their proposed budget later Wednesday, and Berger said the teacher pay details will be in it.

North Carolina’s average teacher pay lags near the bottom nationwide, and Republican leaders have acknowledged it is hard to recruit and keep teachers. Berger called the plan the largest teacher pay raise in state history.

The Senate pay plan applies only to teachers who agree to give up their tenure, a contentious provision that is likely to be opposed by some teachers. The plan repeals elimination of tenure in 2018, a previous legislative move that two judges have ruled against.

Teachers who want to keep their tenure won’t see a pay increase, Berger said. The $468 million budgeted assumes all will accept the raises.

“This is a significant step in addressing what has been a continuing problem in North Carolina and will help propel North Carolina forward,” Berger said at a press briefing.

The plan would increase average teacher salaries by $5,200 a year, to $51,198. That would make North Carolina’s average pay, now ranked 47th in the nation, 27th among the states.

Combined with local and state pay incentives for steps such as attaining a master’s degree, Berger said, “For the first time in state history, teachers could make more than administrators.”

The Senate differs from Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed teacher pay plan by fully adopting a new pay schedule, Berger said, in contrast to the governor’s “aspirational” plan. The Senate version also promises larger raises.

The 21-step plan awards the largest, double-digit raises to teachers with between four and 24 years of experience. Berger said that is intended to reward those at their career peaks.

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