CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina teacher salaries remain below the national average. Gov. Roy Cooper has announced his plans to propose wage increases for them in his upcoming budget.

While the national average for teacher wages sit at $66,432 a year, data from the Department of Public Instruction show North Carolina teachers make an average of $57,805 a year.

“I think a lot of folks stay like me because we’re really passionate but there comes a point where we can’t be financial martyrs either. I think that’s why you’ve seen a lot of passionate people leave because they don’t see things changing anytime soon,” said Kim Mackey, a 16-year veteran of the Wake County Public School System.

Wake County Public School System data shows close to 300 open teaching positions in the district. While they represent fewer than 3 percent of all teaching positions, they can be difficult to fill. It’s why the district has taken increased steps to recruit teachers like improving the pipeline that takes student teachers to full-time teachers.

The district is also facing a shortage of bus drivers. The district is down more than 30 percent of their needed drivers.

In the last year, some full time WCPSS staff have received bonuses to help with retention but district leaders admitted in a work session Tuesday that pay has not kept up with inflation pressing. Mackey isn’t surprised teachers are leaving the profession.

“When the private industry is willing to pay significantly more and our General Assembly hasn’t shown an interest in competing with them- they’re doing what they need to do for their livelihoods,” Mackey.

Cooper announced in his State of the State address Monday night that he planned to propose a salary increase for teachers in the next budget.

“It gives teachers and principals double-digit raises. It keeps the buses running. It helps kids with special needs. It keeps schools safe,” said Cooper about his proposed increase.

That proposed budget is due out in the coming days. It is ultimately up to legislators in the statehouse to sign off on it.