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House committee learns about the state of teacher pay in North Carolina

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  • “We shouldn’t thump our chest on a 5% pay increase to teachers when you have inflation at eight and a half percent," said @JohnTorbett, senior chair of a General Assembly committee looking at the future of education in North Carolina. #nced #ncga
  • A House committee on the future of education discussed teacher pay this week. The senior chair of the committee said lawmakers shouldn't be proud of the most recent 5% pay increase for teachers. #nced
  • Teachers in North Carolina take longer to reach their maximum pay than other state employees and their benefits fall short of neighboring states, according to a presentation from General Assembly staff. #nced

A North Carolina House committee considering the future of education in the state met Monday to hear a presentation on the state of teacher pay and comments from the public.

The committee’s senior chair, Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, said during the meeting that lawmakers should not be proud of the average 5% increase in teacher pay they passed in last year’s biennium budget.

“We shouldn’t thump our chest on a 5% pay increase to teachers when you have inflation at eight and a half percent, you have fuel costs over a 100% increase, you have rental charges going up 20%, you have health care going up 14%, and the list goes on,” he said. “So the 5% pay increase is really a negative by the time everything else comes out.”

His comments came the same day as the release of a consensus revenue forecast which indicates the state will have a roughly $4 billion surplus for the current fiscal year and almost $2 billion for the next one.

Teacher pay

The teacher pay presentation from General Assembly staff Monday explained the current state of educator compensation to lawmakers and presented them with ideas to consider as they continue meeting.

According to the presentation, teachers in North Carolina take longer to reach their maximum pay compared to other state employees — and their benefits fall short of neighboring states.

Screenshot of slide from General Assembly presentation on May 9, 2022.
Screenshot of slide from General Assembly presentation on May 9, 2022.

It remains to be seen whether lawmakers will increase teacher pay in the upcoming short session. Here is the presentation on teacher pay. You can also see it below.

Brainstorming and public comment

The committee is ambitiously named the House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future and is tasked with imagining how lawmakers might create an education system in North Carolina if it didn’t already have one.

Thus far, comments by lawmakers in the committee and the public have largely touched on issues and complaints related to the current, already-established education system. But during the meeting Monday, Torbett and others thought out loud about other possibilities.

Torbett mentioned ideas such as replacing principals with so-called “executive teachers” who would teach a few classes a week while taking care of the day-to-day management in schools.

However, the committee has made no actual recommendations for the rest of the General Assembly to consider. The committee had the option of delivering a preliminary report on what it has learned so far to the legislature by May 1 but opted not to, according to Torbett’s legislative assistant. Instead, the committee will deliver a report by the end of 2022, ahead of the next legislative long session in early 2023.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados is senior reporter for EducationNC.