North Carolina's newly-signed state budget could mean cuts to public education and an end to bonuses for teachers with higher degrees.
Teachers have expressed concern their pay is being cut, but North Carolina Representative John Bell said there are a lot of misconceptions about the budget. "We want to get their pay raise up. Teachers were given a raise in 2012, and in 2013, we were not able to do raises because of the Medicaid shortfall. But in 2014, we are going to be able to do raises for teachers and other state employees."
Vice President for the North Carolina Education Association, Mark Jewell, said while there was a one percent increase last year, it's still not enough. Jewell pointed out that in the 2007/2008 school year, North Carolina was ranked 25th in the nation in teacher pay. Last year, North Carolina was ranked 46th.
On Governor Pat McCrory's website, it states 1,800 full-time teaching positions will be added in the next two years instead of teaching assistants. Jewell responded to that by saying they are "just making up a deficit." He said they are not taking into account the population growth in North Carolina and the amount of teachers the state needs. He went on to say the budget eliminates 5,184 teacher positions and 3,850 teaching assistant positions.
Teachers will also not receive a bonus for continuing their education to the Masters or Doctoral levels. Former Craven County teacher, Mark Best, is worried teachers will no longer "sacrifice their time and money to go back to school" without an incentive. Best said, "they're sacrificing their time and money to go back to school to get those masters and doctorate degrees, and the state is not rewarding them for it."
Representative Bell does not agree with the higher education part of the budget and is looking for solutions to that issue during short session.