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Better background checks and the politics of pay raises

In this article:

  • Potential improvements to teacher criminal screening process

  • The State Board’s legislative agenda

  • The governor’s education advisor, Catherine Truitt, answers questions about his education plan

The State Board of Education heard about some possible improvements to its criminal screening procedures for teachers on the second day of its work session in Wilmington.

Katie Cornetto, the Board’s attorney, laid out a number of recommendations for fixing the state’s system Wednesday, including:

  • A fingerprint background check for teachers prior to getting their licenses
  • Additional background questions on the self-reporting section of applications
  • District access to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC) — where districts could learn about any disciplinary actions taken on teachers’ licenses in other states

North Carolina’s screening system was a focus of a USA Today story that brought a number of issues into light.

Here is Cornetto’s PowerPoint. Below you can watch her presentation.

 The Board also reviewed and approved a list of legislative priorities for the General Assembly short session starting April 25th.

They include:

  • Increasing teacher salaries until they are the best in the Southeast
  • Increasing principal and assistant principal pay
  • Increase textbook funding to previous level of $77.16 per student
  • Increase staffing for NC Virtual Public School
  • Remove schools that receive a D and meet growth from the list of low-performing schools
  • Increase number of school nurses
  • Fund DPI’s district and school transformation efforts so it can intervene in bottom 5 percent of schools and 10 percent of districts
  • Allow some school calendar flexibility

Here are the budget requests connected with the priorities. Below is a video of the presentation.

Finally, Governor Pat McCrory’s Senior Education Advisor Catherine Truitt answered questions from the Board related to the governor’s education plan, which includes raising teacher pay by an average of 5 percent.

Truitt said that the pay increase applies to teachers who have up to 24 years experience. Teachers with more than 24 years will receive a one-time $5,000 bonus, while teachers under 24 years will get an $1,100 bonus. Teacher salaries in North Carolina top out at $50,000 on the state pay scale for teachers who have been working for more than 24 years.

In the video, Board Member Christine Fitch pushes back at length on the governor’s announcement and criticizes aspects of his plan. See for yourself what she had to say:

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.