RALEIGH — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed into law a K-12 educator pay bill that he says still fails to give what teachers and school staff need.
The measure, one of nine bills Cooper signed Friday, provides $350 one-time bonuses by October to teachers and instructional support personnel along with their usual experience-based raises. For most teachers, that “step increase” on the salary schedule is $1,000.
The legislation also urges the Democratic governor to use COVID-19 relief money to provide $600 more in bonuses to these teachers, as well as $600 to custodians and cafeteria workers. Cooper and the Republican legislators who drew up the bill disagree on whether the relief money can be used that way.
“I signed this bill because it funds step increases for teachers that have already been promised, but it falls outrageously short on raises we need to give teachers and all school personnel like bus drivers and cafeteria workers,” Cooper said in a news release. He said he hoped the legislature would offer more when it reconvenes in September.
Democrats unsuccessfully pushed amendments to guarantee one-time bonuses of $1,250 to teachers and instructional support and $1,000 bonuses to non-instructional employees.
Other bills signed Friday would fund new positions at expanding state parks, cover low-cost tuition at three UNC system campuses and allow judges to sentence some nonviolent drug traffickers below mandatory minimum sentence lengths and fines after they’re convicted.
The “First Step Act” sentencing legislation was one of two criminal justice reform bills introduced last year that Cooper signed this week. The ideas regained steam in recent weeks after demonstrations nationwide and in North Carolina against racial inequality after the death of George Floyd.
Cooper has more than 50 bills on his desk. He’ll have to decide over the next 10 days whether to sign them, veto them or let them become law without his signature.