I added the following sentence to the blog post as a point of clarification:
"In some cases, the amount of a raise under the proposed salary scale is lower when calculated without the longevity pay. "
Last week, state lawmakers finalized plans to boost teacher pay by about 7 percent. Gov. Pat McCrory also plans to sign the budget into law.
That programs comes after months of wrangling over the amount of the teachers' raises and how to fund it. State leaders tout the final budget as a success, especially for education.
Teachers? Not so much.
Minutes after I shared information about the new teacher salary schedule (for those with only a bachelor's degree), teachers told me the estimated raise amounts are inflated. Some said they're losing longevity pay - something lawmakers dispute.
The lawmakers are right on that count. Teachers aren't losing longevity pay. Instead, the longevity pay - money teachers and other state employees automatically receive after 10 years - is factored into their monthly salaries.
But teachers are right about another point. Factoring the longevity pay into the estimated raises makes it seem they're getting more new money than they really are. In some cases, the amount of a raise under the proposed salary scale is lower when calculated without the longevity pay.
Take a teacher at year 10 on the salary schedule. That teacher would have made $35,800 on the old salary scale. Now, they would take home $40,000 with the longevity pay factored in.
The longevity pay would be $537. If you take the raise minus that amount, those teachers are actually getting a 10 percent raise and not the 16.11 percent raise listed on the new salary schedule.
A raise is a good thing, and no one seems to dispute that. But the honest amount of the raise, minus the money teachers would automatically raise, is lower than reported.
Another issue from teachers is that the proposed raises wouldn't fully restore the money they've lost since the height of the Great Recession.
I have to give credit to Mark Jewell - VP of the North Carolina Association of Educators and a Guilford County Schools employee - for noting this on his Facebook page. If you look at the state's salary scale from 2008-09 and compare it to the new one, teachers still won't take home as much money as they should have before the recession.
Here's a link to the 2007-08 salary schedule on the state Department of Public Instruction website. What you would see is that in some cases, teachers would have earned more money under that pay scale than they would earn at the same step on the current pay scale.
For example, a teacher at step 14 would or should have been paid a minimum of $40,750 in 2007-08. With the new raises, a teacher at step 14 on the pay scale would earn $40,000.
Some of the other questions teachers raised to me are pretty nuanced. I'm still trying to get those answered.
Meanwhile, here are a few other comments from teachers:
"The budget is a disgrace and disrespect toward teachers. It is worse than I imagined and so unfair. A true raise does not take away benefits such as longevity and paying for masters degrees. How can they call this a 7 percent raise if you take money away? Great teachers will continue to leave NC and the children will suffer. Shame on our politicians. I am a NC teacher with 14 years experience and under this plan, I will get a 1.96 percent raise." - Phyllis Dunn Laviner
Here's a related letter to the editor.
Here are comments from state lawmakers (via news releases).
Senate Leader Phil Berger:
"Last week the General Assembly passed a budget providing North Carolina’s public school teachers the largest pay raise in state history and propelling North Carolina from near the bottom to 32nd in national rankings. It’s unfortunate that instead of celebrating this historic advancement, the NCAE and others are spreading false rumors in an effort to mislead the public and our educators.”
Gov. Pat McCrory:
“It’s a victory for the people of North Carolina. I laid out specific parameters throughout this process, including a significant pay increase for teachers, no reduction of teacher assistants, preservation of Medicaid eligibility standards and no tax increases, and this budget does just that."
Call, email or message me if you're a teacher who wants to weigh in on this.