September 29th, 2023 Legislative Update
This long session budget process has finally completed. The bill is not yet law, but it will be ten days from last Friday. The delay is due to the governor refusing to sign the budget, but he is not vetoing the document. A bill automatically becomes law ten days after it is passed if the governor does not veto. Let's outline the education portion of this budget.
The final budget did more than we saw in the Senate’s version of the budget, but it did fall short of the proposal given by the House. The legislature is advertising that this budget gives an average of 7% across the board for the biennium. Unfortunately, this also appears to be counting the pay steps that were already in place, and the raise continues to treat veteran teachers unfairly. The raise also falls short of appropriating an amount that keeps up with inflation.
The raise moves the start of the scale from $37,000 to $41,000 and the range for increases is from 3.6% to 10.8%. Again, the scale does not favor veteran teachers. This is disappointing when we see that state employees received a raise of 7% across the board, and considering how high inflation currently is across the country. This will certainly exacerbate the current teacher shortage in North Carolina, and not encourage young minds to consider education as a career.
Other notes for teacher pay:
Teachers with a six-year degree level will receive an additional $126 a month on top of the “M” schedule (10% on top of the "A" schedule steps).
Teachers with a doctorate will receive a supplement of $253 a month on top of the “M” schedule.
Master’s Pay will remain only for those teachers who were grandfathered.
The General Assembly appropriated an additional $60 million to supplement local supplements. This brings the revised net appropriation to $200 million. The plan still leaves out the largest school districts such as Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
$10.9 million was appropriated to supplement salaries for teachers serving in advanced teacher roles, for districts participating in the Advanced Teaching Roles program. The supplement is broken down into two categories, adult leadership, and classroom excellence. Adult leadership teachers will receive $10,000 and classroom excellence teachers will receive a $3,000 supplement.
Signing bonuses were appropriated for low wealth and small counties. The bonus is up to $1,000.
Salaries for other school personnel:
Principals and non-certified personnel will receive a 7% across the board raise for the biennium. There is also a new salary schedule for principals.
Bus drivers will receive the 7% percent raise plus an additional 2%.
Certified school nurses will receive a supplement each month of 10% of their salary. (“A” salary schedule).
School Counselors licensed at the master’s degree level will receive a supplement of $100 a month. This also applies to those with even higher degrees.
Assistant principals will receive a salary based on the teacher “A” schedule plus 19%. They will also receive supplements of $126 or $253 for six-year degree levels or doctorates.
Retirees will receive a 4% bonus in the first year of the biennium.
Other Education Items of Importance:
One big win was the expansion of the Teaching Fellows Program to now include more institutions (10 instead of the previous). It will also now include K-6 teachers and a larger scholarship amount ($5,000 per semester).
The budget does expand Opportunity Scholarship as proposed in legislation earlier this year. The investment was large and stings when we see the less than desired raises and a need for more funds in our public schools.
The bill appropriated $ 1 million dollars to cover fees for teachers pursuing National Board certification.
There is funding to assist with teacher assistants becoming teachers ($4,600 per year).
The budget eliminated penalties for unpaid student meal debt.
The budget changes how our schools are funded. They will now be funded in arrears beginning the '24-'25 school year. This will potentially hurt school systems that are growing by large numbers each school year.
The legislative year is still not complete. We are still waiting to see what other bills or actions might be taken when they return in October to deal with redistricting. Stay tuned for a brief recap of the year as the legislative work progresses.
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