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In this week’s CommenTerry, I outline proposed changes to the K-12 portion of the state budget.  That’s pretty much it.

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*Please keep in mind that all items discussed or referenced below are subject to change.

Are teachers receiving a pay increase? 

Yes, and it is big.  On average, teachers will receive a 7 percent increase.  Teachers in their first 11 years in the classroom will receive the largest raises, ranging from 7.1 to 18.5 percent.

Will the teacher salary schedule change?

Yes. Legislators propose collapsing 37 yearly steps into six.  Each of the six "bands" has a minimum or base salary.  Teachers who move from one band to another will receive a substantial increase in base pay.  For example, the base salary of a teacher moving from the first band (years 0-4) to the next (years 5-9) will increase by nearly 11 percent.

What does this new teacher salary schedule look like? 

See below.  Keep in mind that this does not include local salary supplements and other sources of additional pay that most teachers receive.

Years of Experience

School Year Base Pay (monthly)













Is this a good deal for teachers?

Yes. Keep in mind that the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) and other public school advocacy groups object to the plan not based on its quality but because it was proposed by Republicans.  After all, you cannot participate in Moral Monday events and support a budget written by Republicans.  I would not be surprised to learn that one of the rules of Moral Monday participation is "choose you this day whom ye will serve." (Joshua 24:15)

Will other public school employees receive raises?

Yes.  The raises are not as large as those proposed for teachers, but more money will be heading their way.

What’s going on with teacher assistants?

Legislators plan to fund a portion of the teacher assistant allotment by replacing General Fund dollars with lottery revenue.  I’m not thrilled with funding TAs using an unpredictable source of revenue like the lottery.  That said, legislators propose decreasing the teacher assistant allotment based on student enrollment in grades K-3.  In the past, school districts would transfer a portion of their teacher assistant money to fund teachers and other school personnel.  Budget writers reason that the teacher assistant allotment should be used for teacher assistants only, so they based the appropriation on student enrollment.  To make up for part of the TA money that would have been used for teaching positions, they set aside an additional $42 million for teachers in early grades.

Are legislators bringing back graduate degree supplements?

Not really.  Legislators set aside supplemental funding for teachers who started a master’s degree program by August 1, 2013.  Staff who are required to have a master’s degree for licensure, as well as teachers who received the supplement prior to 2014, will also receive the graduate degree supplement.

Did legislators propose scrapping salary supplements for National Board Certification (NBPTS)?

No. NBPTS certified teachers will continue to receive a monthly salary supplement of 12 percent.

Why are they proposing cuts to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI)?

The legislative leadership and DPI do not get along.

Are we finally getting virtual charter schools?

Yes, and it’s about time.  The budget directs the State Board of Education to initiate a virtual charter school pilot program beginning in the 2015-2016 school year.

Does the legislature authorize lease purchase or installment purchase contracts to purchase athletic lighting?

Yes.  It is a dream come true for those who are scared of the dark.

Did legislators scrap performance and incentive pay?


What is the North Carolina Education Endowment Fund budget item?

Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest proposed a permanent fund that would provide an alternative funding source for teacher compensation. The budget sets aside $1 million to get the fund off the ground.  It also directs the state to set up special registration plates as a source of revenue for the fund.

Are there good ideas that will not get a lot of attention?

Yup. The legislature will require school districts to equip schools with emergency epinephrine auto-injectors.

Where is the best place to find budget commentary and analysis?

Where is the worst place to find budget commentary and analysis?

That is an easy one.  Stay away from Twitter.

Are you going to see Guardians of the Galaxy this weekend?


Facts and Stats

Major Changes Outlined In The Joint Conference Committee Report On The Continuation, Expansion, And Capital Budgets for Senate Bill 744 (also known as the "money report")

  • R=recurring funding and NR=nonrecurring funding
  • Dollar figures in parentheses are reductions

Compensation Increase Reserve — Educators

Average 7 percent salary increase for teachers
$275,514,319 R
$6,764,338 NR

Accrued Longevity Reserve — Educators

Teachers who earned longevity pay in 2013-2014 will receive prorated longevity pay from reserve
$24,299,233 NR

Compensation Increase Reserve — School-based Administrators

Accommodates salary schedule changes and an experience-based step increase
$5,818,632 R
$133,410 NR

Compensation Increase Reserve — Non-certified and Central Office Personnel

Provides a $618 recurring salary and benefit increase per employee
$32,635,439 R

Compensation Increase Reserve — Department of Public Instruction (DPI)

Provides approximately $1,236 in additional salary and benefits per employee
$1,652,844 R

State Retirement System Contributions — School District Personnel

Increases the state contribution and provides a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment to retirees
$26,455,623 R

State Retirement System Contributions — DPI

Increases the state contribution and provides a 1 percent cost-of-living adjustment to retirees
$226,087 R

ADM Adjustment: Opportunity Scholarships

Ensures that the appropriation for vouchers does not reduce public school spending
$11,797,941 R

Education Lottery Receipts: Teacher Assistants

Replaces General Fund dollars with lottery funds
($113,318,880) R

Excellent Public Schools Act

Additional funding for the North Carolina Read to Achieve and North Carolina Teacher Corps programs
$6,015,859 R

Classroom Teachers

Decreases class size by one student in both kindergarten and first-grade
$41,932,566 R

Education-Based Salary Supplements Restoration

Restores education-based salary supplements for graduate degrees for certain personnel
$18,700,000 R

Teacher Assistants

Adjusts the Teacher Assistant allotment
($129,912,165) R
$24,815,645 NR


Reduces the total budget for the allotment by 1 percent
($4,630,992) R

Merit Pay for Teachers

Shifts money from recurring to nonrecurring
($10,200,000) R
$10,200,000 NR

Differential Teacher Compensation

Seed funding for the new North Carolina Educational Endowment Fund
$1,000,000 NR

At-Risk Student Services

General reduction in funding
($9,263,980) R

Funds for Children in Private Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities

$3,200,000 R

DPI Flexible Reduction

Reduces State General Fund support for the NC Department of Public Instruction by 10 percent
($5,026,050) R

North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching

Shifts funding from nonrecurring to recurring
$3,239,639 R
($3,239,639) NR

Acronym of the Week

NCGA — North Carolina General Assembly

Quote of the Week

"The real goal should be reduced government spending, rather than balanced budgets achieved by ever rising tax rates to cover ever rising spending. For this, the only policy that seems promising is ‘eternal vigilance,’ the price we must pay for freedom in general."

— Thomas Sowell, "10 Questions with Thomas Sowell," February 8, 2012

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