For the first time, the average yearly salary for a North Carolina teacher is more than $50,000 and lawmakers are hoping to see the average pay increase a few more thousand dollars in the next two years.
Recently released figures from the state Department of Public Instruction show the average salary for a North Carolina public school teacher at $51,214 this school year.
The WakeEd Partnership is a non-profit that serves roughly 11,000 teachers in Wake County.
In the past five years, the average teacher salary has increased 12 percent, from $45,737.
Vice President of Policy Tim Lavallee said the pay raise is an important threshold to cross for teachers.
"It's encouraging that we're heading in the right direction as far as North Carolina teaching salaries are concerned," said Lavallee. "Ideally, what WakeEd would like to see is actually valuing the profession based on the requirements for entry and for professional development and continuing education."
The money was approved in a two-year plan and the hope is it'll keep teachers in North Carolina classrooms.
"North Carolina continues to make progress in its efforts to pay our teachers more, and average teacher pay above $50,000 is an important benchmark. As state superintendent, I am committed to working with the General Assembly to continue increasing educators' salaries," said North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson.
Republican lawmakers said their goal is to raise average teacher salaries to $55,000 a year by 2020.
"Legislative Republicans are proud of our record on improving public education and raising teacher pay," said Senate Leader Phil Berger's spokesperson Amy Auth. "Since 2011, we have invested nearly two billion additional dollars into K-12 public education, increasing funding every year, and since 2013, we've provided teachers an average pay raise between 15.25 and 22.11 percent."
The average salary for teachers includes local supplements to the state base salary.
This year, the average local supplement was $4,337.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.