RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Hours before tens of thousands of teachers and their supporters march in Raleigh, Republicans in the state House of Representatives gave new details about proposed raises for state employees in their version of the budget.
Teachers would receive an average raise of 4.8 percent next year under the House plan, which Speaker Tim Moore (R) and other senior legislators announced Tuesday. The raise for assistant principals would average 6.3 percent. For principals, it would be 10 percent.
Most state employees will see raises of either 1 percent or $500, whichever is greater, said Rep. Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth).
“You know, the last five budgets in North Carolina have increased state employee pay, and particularly teacher pay,” said Moore. “This robust salary plan continues our commitment to rewarding the people who keep our state safe, teach our children and protect our communities.”
Moore said House lawmakers aim to approve their version of the budget by Friday.
It also includes a $145 allowance for each teacher to spend on classroom supplies through an online program called Class Wallet. Legislators previously announced a plan to redirect existing funding to allow each teacher to have $400 to spend. However, that plan faced criticism, including from North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell, who described it as a “shell game.” The new plan would provide additional funding instead of redirecting existing funding.
Ahead of Wednesday’s rally, Greensboro teachers Nikki Campbell and Mary Haith came to Raleigh for a field trip with their students. Both planned to return to Raleigh Wednesday, saying they’re concerned about the lack of resources in their classrooms.
Campbell estimates she spends between $600 and $700 per year of her own money on supplies.
“Teachers, we’re coming out of our pockets for everything, just basic supplies for the students we’re coming out of our pockets for,” she said.
Haith said some of the textbooks are older than her fourth-grade students.
“Our science books are the same when I started 13 years ago, and they were old then,” she said.
Hundreds of thousands of students will not have classes Wednesday because some school districts have closed due to a lack of substitute teachers to fill in for the educators who’ve requested the day off to rally in Raleigh.
“It is time for the General Assembly to listen to the citizens, to the 10 million citizens across the state of North Carolina and say our public schools deserve better than what they’re getting,” Jewell said.
The NCAE has identified five goals for this year’s rally: increased funding for support staff such as counselors, increased pay for employees, expand Medicaid, restore cuts to retiree health benefits and restore pay for employees with advanced degrees.
The House version of the budget, which Speaker Moore said could pass by Friday, would restore pay for master’s degrees.