A Recap Of This Year
It has been an interesting and active year of advocacy on behalf of PENC and our education stakeholders. As the year comes to a close, this is a good time to do a 2023 year-end review and summary.
The long legislative session was approached with much hope that we could promote as many of our legislative priorities as possible. We had open, constructive dialogue with legislative leaders through the PENC Legislative Day and certainly were able to make our case to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. As often happens, public K-12 education fell to the back burner while much of the legislative debate and discussion turned to other issues.
Salary & Budget Updates
The biggest item of 2023 was the state budget. Much of the spring, summer, and early fall was spent in limbo and anticipation of a final document as other issues distracted lawmakers as they worked through the budgeting process. In the end, the final budget provided an average seven percent (7%) pay increase for teachers, unfortunately that included pay steps and there was no real focus on veteran teacher compensation. Although the final budget numbers were not as harsh as originally proposed by the Senate, they were not as generous as the initial proposal from the House.
Although starting teacher pay was increased, mid-career and veteran teachers did not see a significant bump in pay. Teachers should have noticed salary adjustments with back pay during October or November.
Click here to see finalized salary schedules
The legislature did continue to fund additional supplemental increases to all but four counties. This does help make teaching positions in low wealth counties more attractive and allows those districts to compete with larger districts.
Principals, bus drivers, school counselors and certified personnel along with assistant principals received raises and salary schedule adjustments in a positive direction and retirees did receive a four percent (4%) bonus in the first year of the biennium.
Important Policies to Monitor
Teaching fellows was expanded which was, also, good news. We hope to see the continued expansion of this program and its return to the vital role in the teaching pipeline it once played.
One issue of concern to many educators was the significant growth of the Opportunity Scholarship program. This will be something that PENC will continue to monitor going forward.
Despite our disappointment with the budgeting process and its limited monetary allocations towards teachers, there were policy wins in which our goals were better realized. We started the year with some concern about the PEPSC committee and its proposal to restructure the licensing and pay processes. That program never really got off the ground. There are eight experimental pilot programs to look at increasing pay for teachers who take on extra roles, leadership, and mentor positions in their schools. This is likely something positive, and we will keep our eyes on it as these eight districts experiment with these expanded roles. However, the initial goals as stated by PEPSC were not adopted statewide.
There have been some changes to provisional licensure and related changes to the naming of licenses. At this time, the accommodations in the licensure process seem to be designed to help ease the transition into the classroom for more people as there appears to be an anticipated demand in teaching positions in the future. We will continue to monitor this process to ensure the licensing process is fair and equitable while maintaining the integrity of the teaching profession.
The Parental Bill of Rights has caused some confusion. Currently, NCDPI and local boards are working to sort out the language and processes needed to implement the policy.
There were monies allocated to help cover fees associated with NBPTS certifications. Although Masters pay is still based on being grandfathered in, we are pleased that the commitment to NBPTS remains as a way teachers can increase their pay along with obtaining a nationally recognized accreditation.
What’s to come in 2024
As we move into 2024 we are hopeful and will lobby for budget adjustments to be made to further increase pay for teachers. In addition, we will continue to be guardians of the profession to ensure that any statutory changes and NCDPI initiated changes are consistent with PENC’s mission and aligns with the values of educators across North Carolina.
PENC Advocacy Team: