RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — From press conferences to committee meetings, lawmakers across the board gravitated toward one topic on Wednesday—schools in North Carolina. 

They’re trying to make sure students get the best education possible, but political parties have different ideas of how to ensure that.

Democratic leaders focused their talks on Wednesday on a wide array of resources, including funding for teachers and programs. Republican leaders, though, say the focus right now needs to be on safety. 

“All parents, whether Republican or Democrat, can agree on one thing—we want the best for our children,” Representative Julie Von Haefen said.

Democratic representatives focused on funding House Bill 1079, which would fund early education, programs for high school students, and increased pay for teachers. These are things some lawmakers say are desperately needed. 

“Did you know that in Wake County, the average pay for a starting teacher with a Bachelor’s Degree is $12 an hour?” asked Gayle Headen, the Executive Director of Wake County Smart Start.

Education leaders emphasized that the time to act is now. 

“Every day that goes by, a teacher leaves, there’s a missed learning opportunity for a child, and a parent can’t go to work or start his or her business,” Headen said.

Republican lawmakers met later in the day, saying their focus right now after the Uvalde mass shooting, is on safety inside of schools.

“No one can seem to find the absolute solution, and so we constantly are on a vigil to help improve the safety of our schools here in North Carolina and throughout the United States,” Representative John Torbett said.

Representative Torbett says while conversations intensify around school safety, North Carolina parents can feel assured sending their kids off to school each and every day.

“This does not mean our schools out there are not safe, they are, they work each and every day back at each [local education agency] and every district and every county of our state to provide safety for schools,” he said.

When it comes to adding any resources to schools, lawmakers say they’re actually expecting a budget surplus this year, so they say there is really no better time for the General Assembly to make moves to invest in education. 

Leaders on Wednesday also talked about the challenge of getting resource officers inside of schools, saying some local police departments can’t place an officer inside of a school because they need them out on the streets. They also called on parents to be actively involved in their child’s academic life and to pay attention to what their kids are doing on the internet and while at home.