McCrory seeks teacher pay overhaul

Vance County teachers have questions about proposal
May. 07, 2014 @ 07:56 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory’s announcement has left many Vance County educators with questions.

In a press conference at North Carolina A&T State University on Wednesday, McCrory introduced the Career Pathways for Teachers budget plan, which he and staff developed to address performance-based teacher pay, incentives and supplements for the years leading into 2018. McCrory said he’ll seek these changes when he recommends adjustments next week to the state’s two-year budget.

The framework addresses veteran teachers’ pay first. It calls for educators who have taught for eight to 12 years to receive increases ranging from 2.8 to 4.3 percent by July 1, while those who have been in the classroom for 13 to 36 years will receive raises of about two percent.

Previously, McCrory has proposed to increase base salaries of teachers with less than seven years’ experience this fall.

Henderson Middle School teacher Amalorpavam Arulappan said she thought teachers should get more than that. She’s been at the middle school for seven years and has only seen about a 1 percent pay increase.

“Each student we deal with is a lot,” she said. “There are different personalities and then their parents and so forth. I am very motivated to teach, but we still want to see some difference in pay.”

The plan would also establish a Career Pathways fund that would allow 16 school systems to experiment with ways to reward highly effective teachers, those who mentor younger educators and those who lead teacher teams. McCrory’s proposed budget would set aside $9 million to pay for the first eight districts. The model would go statewide by 2019.

The aim is to open doors for teachers to receive money beyond their base pay.

“For years, teachers have suffered through little to no pay raises as the state had to endure one of the toughest economic recessions in generations,” McCrory said in a statement. “The Career Pathways for Teachers framework reverses that trend with modest raises in the short-term, and a meaningful, long-term plan that empowers teachers to determine their own financial future while at the same time giving local school districts the flexibility to address the most pressing needs of their students and community.”

McCrory also wants to implement a new teacher pay schedule by 2018 that would include a scale with six base salaries. The proposal would increase salaries for new educators more quickly; a 13-year teacher would receive a $47,000 base salary compared with $38,650 today. The maximum base salary of $50,000 would start at year 16, but teachers making more than that wouldn’t see their pay cut as a result.

“I think more questions need to be asked before a resolution is found,” Southern Vance High School Assistant Principal Rey Horner said. “I know I have a lot of questions about it.”

Many Vance County teachers agree with Horner, expressing wariness about what is meant by performance based.

“My question would be how will we be affected by performance-based pay when there are no standardized test in some subjects, in subjects like band, computer skills and Spanish,” Henderson Middle School band teacher Trevor Rorie said.

Along with teacher pay, McCrory announced plans to double state funding for textbooks to $46 million and allocate an additional $3.6 million for early childhood education.

“I think more money for books is great,” said Veronica Lopez, who teachers sixth-grade math at Henderson Middle School. “Right now, we have classroom sets. So if students wanted to take them home, they couldn’t.”

Southern Vance’s assistant principal said educators will just have to wait and see whether the state follows through.

“Anytime you are dealing with the state, you are going to have to hold your breath,” Horner said. “They sometimes find reasons why things can’t be done. All we can do is keep our heads down and keep doing our job.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.