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  • Aidan McInnis

May 23, 2023 Legislative Update

Breakdown of Senate Budget

Last week, the North Carolina Senate released its version of the state budget. This brings us closer to having a state budget. We now have all three budgets for consideration for us to read and compare. The Senate Budget was not friendly to public education and salaries. They did include the Opportunity Scholarship, and added revisions that commit to more funding and remove income caps for qualification. This was not a surprise considering that both sides have passed a bill. Since the bill requires funding, it must be placed in the budget if it is to be funded. PENC still remains highly concerned about this bill, and will continue to remind legislators that we do not support this measure. If they are going to implement these changes, accountability measures are very much needed.

The Senate Budget advertises a 4.5% average pay raise for teachers across the biennium. This is disappointing considering there is an over $3 billion recurring surplus. The budget gives years 0-5 a $200 per month pay bump. The raises continue to decrease through the years of experience until it reaches teachers with 14 years of experience or more. These teachers will receive a 0% raise or close to $20 a month. This is difficult to understand when inflation is at 8.7%. Retirees will receive a 1% bonus in both years. Please remember that bonuses are non-recurring.

There is a 2.5% raise for non-certified personnel in year one, or a 4.5% increase, if paid on an experience-based salary schedule. There is also a 2.5% increase in year two of the budget.

The Senate Budget also creates a new salary schedule for assistant principals. They will be placed on the scale based on their experience, and they will receive a salary based on the “A” teacher’s schedule, plus 19%. Assistant principals with a certification at the six-year degree level will receive a supplement of $126 a month, and doctoral degrees will receive a supplement of $253 a month. The Senate also creates a new salary schedule for principals.

Here is that schedule:

The Senate budget also makes salary changes for school psychologists, speech pathologists, and audiologists licensed at a master’s degree level or higher. The first step of their schedule will be equivalent to the sixth step of the teacher salary schedule. They will receive a monthly supplement of 10% of their monthly salary plus $350.

The House Budget Snapshot: Teachers Pay: An average of 11.2% raise for teachers. This percentage included a 7.5% raise for teachers, 70 million additional dollars to the state supplement for local distribution, and the pay steps which were already law. The House budget also reinstated master’s pay and Teaching Fellows. Principal Pay: The same as teachers (7.5%) over the two year period. Non-certified Staff: The same as teachers (7.5%) over the two year period. Bus drivers: The same as teachers (7.5%) over the two year period with an additional 2% pay bump on average to address shortages. School Health Personnel: The House budget changed the name of the school psychologist allotment to the school health personnel allotment. The plan also provided funding for an additional 120 positions. Retirees: To receive a recurring 2% increase in pay.

Governor’s Budget Snapshot: Teacher Pay: Governor Cooper’s budget paid all teachers a minimum 10% raise in year one of the biennium, and a minimum 6% raise in year two. In total, the raises add up to an average of 18% when including the pay steps. Principal Pay: The same raise as teachers of a minimum 10% raise in year one of the biennium, and a minimum 6% raise in year two. This budget also includes funding for 17 principal turnaround coaches. Non-certified staff: To receive a 9.5% raise over the biennium. He also funds 2,709 new teacher assistants. Bus drivers: To receive a 9.5% raise over the biennium. School Health Personnel: This budget also funds 1,000 new school nurses and 115 school psychologist internships Retirees: To receive a 2% increase and is to be recurring with an additional 2% non-recurring in year one and 1% in year two.

Education Legislative Bills Still in Play: The last PENC report focused on some significant bills that met the crossover deadline. These included the Opportunity Scholarship proposal and the Charter School Omnibus bill. Here are some other education bills to take note of that met the crossover deadline and will be eligible until December 31, 2024: HB 432 – This bill changes the principal licensure procedure by no longer requiring teaching experience for school principals. SB 187 – Allows for a three-year limited and renewable license for some teachers who cannot obtain their CPL. HB 207 – This bill allows educators to obtain continuing education units from mandatory training and would count toward teacher licensure renewal requirements. HB 8 – Adds Computer Science as a graduation requirement. This could cause some disruption with CTE departments with larger computer science classes while trying to teach other courses. HB 187 & SB 49 – Parental Bill of Rights Bills: Each chamber has issued their own version of a Parental Bill of Rights. These bills are very different. Both chambers say these bills provide numerous safeguards, but both are met with opposition. There are also a few bills in the legislature that provide additional protection for students against abuse.

These bills include: HB 142 – Protect Our Students Act HB 748 – Felony Child Abuse/Expand Scope HB 591 – Restitution/Sexual Exploitation of Minor HB 253 – Prevent Students from Harm Act SB 579 – Prevent Harm to Children HB 86 – Calendar Flexibility – This issue has been around for over 20 years, but it provides flexibility to districts but is unlikely to be heard in the Senate. There were also numerous bills filed for individual districts to receive flexibility. These bills will likely meet the same fate.

Proposed Budgets Comparison Chart for Teacher Salaries from the three budgets. For a complete breakdown of the Governor’s for years 16-30, please click the link.

We will be tracking the budget progress, and continuing to advocate for educators as we enter the conference report (final budget) negotiations that should begin soon.

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