Gov. Roy Cooper proposed average pay raises of 5 percent for teachers this year and next year in his upcoming budget. He made the announcement Monday at Collinswood Language Academy in Charlotte, surrounded by teachers.
Gov. Cooper says the two-year teacher pay raise will cost the state $813 million and he says taxes would not be raised to make it happen.
“That is the largest two-year investment in teacher salaries in decades,” Cooper said. “Under my plan at this rate, North Carolina teachers will be the best in the Southeast in teacher salaries in three years.”
Cooper says no teacher would receive less than a three percent raise, with some possibly receiving as much as a 7 percent increase. In the past two years, teacher pay raises have targeted new and mid-career teachers. Cooper says his plan will ensure that all teachers get a pay increase, especially veterans.
“Some veteran teachers haven’t gotten anything but some have actually seen decreases in pay, so you will see that we have made sure that they aren’t left out this time,” Cooper said.
Teacher salaries in the state currently average just over $49,000, giving the state a national ranking of 41st in the nation. Cooper says his goal is for North Carolina teachers’ pay to equal the national average of $62,000 within five years.
Whitewater Middle School math teacher Khadeem Maddox says he’s encouraged by the governor’s plan and thinks it will make teachers feel more appreciated.
“Comparing my salary with other states and looking at the shortages we have in math and science I think this will help motivate teachers to stay in North Carolina,” Maddox said.
The governor’s plan also calls for teachers to receive a $150 annual stipend for instruction materials since many often use their own money to buy supplies. Coopers says he’s prepared to fight in the legislature to get the pay increases approved. He says he believes legislators on both sides of the aisles recognize that in order to attract and retain good teachers, pay increases are needed.