After the biennium budget passed and was signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, many educators in both the K-12 and community college sphere are wondering just how much money they will gain from the compromise between Republicans and Democrats on the two-year spending plan. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know.
The budget compromise includes an average 5% pay increase for teachers over two years, $2,800 in bonuses for teachers, and $100 million for local teacher supplements to help narrow the gap between districts with a hefty property tax base and those without.
Here is how that breaks down:
All K-12 teachers are getting an across-the-board pay raise of 1.3% in both years of the biennium. So, over two years, that equates to a 2.6% pay raise. That leaves 2.4%, which is the average increase when you take step increases into account.
Step increases are the pay raises built into a teacher’s career via the teacher pay scale. Taking all step increases for all teachers into account, it averages out to about a 2.4% pay increase overall. Add that to the 2.6% across-the-board pay raises for teachers over two years, and you get an average 5% pay raise.
Of course, not every teacher gets that 2.4% average pay increase. Here is the new teacher salary schedule for 2021-22 under the budget deal:
And here it is for 2022-23:
As you can see, there are salary step increases every year for teachers until they hit year 15. At that point, they don’t get another step increase until year 25. And after that, no more step increases.
So, teachers in between years 14 and 25 are getting the 2.6% across-the-board pay increase. Others are getting that 2.6% plus the regularly-scheduled step increase.
Of course, teachers aren’t the only educators in the school building.
Principals are getting a 2.5% across-the-board pay increase in both years of the biennium for a total increase of 5%.
Assistant principal salaries are tied to the teacher salary schedule. They get a monthly salary that is the same as a teacher with similar years of experience plus 19%. So assistant principal compensation will increase in line with that formula given the increases in teacher pay.
The minimum wage for non-certified school employees, such as bus drivers and teacher assistants, is increasing to $13 an hour in the first year of the biennium and $15 an hour in the second year.
Teachers and principals will also be getting bonuses delivered in various ways.
First, any state employee making less than $75,000 a year gets a $1,500 bonus and any state employee making more than that gets a $1,000 bonus. So, teachers should be getting a $1,500 bonus under that plan and most principals will be getting a $1,000 bonus.
In addition, teachers will get another $1,000 bonus, as well as an additional $300 that is repurposed money for merit-based bonuses that can’t be given this year because of a lack of valid accountability data thanks to COVID-19 disruptions. Principals will get another $1,800 bonus. The end result is that most teachers and principals should get $2,800 in bonuses.
Non-certified education personnel will be getting the $1,500 bonus for state employees.
State-funded teacher supplement
One way teachers may be most affected is through the $100 million in funds to help local districts supplement how they pay their teachers. Teachers in North Carolina largely get paid in two ways: by the state and by their district. The state sets a sort of floor for teachers. No matter how much money a district has, they are guaranteed a certain amount of money from the state for their teachers. However, because of the makeup of property tax bases in different counties, some districts are able to supplement their teachers’ pay using local tax dollars. With this budget, the state is sending additional money to most districts for teacher supplements.
Here is a list of all districts in the state and how much money they will get for teacher supplements from the state. You can also see it below.
A few districts — Wake, Durham, Buncombe, Mecklenburg, and Guilford — will get no money under the plan. Those districts are already able to offer supplements. All but Guilford can offer more than $7,000 in additional pay, while Guilford is able to offer almost $5,000.
Staff for Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, compared those to the supplements per teacher the following districts are able to offer:
- Alleghany: $500
- Ashe: $600
- Caswell: $0
- Clay: $24
- Graham: $0
Under the new state-funded supplement plan, those districts will get the following amount of money per teacher to supplement pay:
- Alleghany: $3,345
- Ashe: $1,672
- Caswell: $3,591
- Clay: $2,870
- Graham: $4,250
And that is just using money from the state. Look on the chart above to see how much of a supplement teachers may be getting from the county.
This is meant to be an ongoing program that is intended to make poorer counties more competitive with their better-off neighbors. The formula for how the money is distributed is as follows: 65% of the formula is based on the county tax base, 25% on the county’s median household income, and 10% on the county’s effective tax rate.
Community college pay raises and bonuses
One of the community college system’s budget priorities for a while now has been getting pay increases for faculty and staff at community colleges. The budget provides funding for a 2.5% pay increase in both years of the biennium for a total increase of 5% over two years.
There is also funding to raise the minimum wage for any state-funded employee to $13 an hour in the first year and $15 an hour in the second year of the biennium.
Any community college personnel making less than $75,000 will get that $1,500 bonus, and any making more will get $1,000.