Additional state budget supplement for teachers excludes Wake, Durham school districts

Thursday, November 18, 2021
Some disappointed budget teacher supplement won't help urban counties
The North Carolina budget will include something extra for education in many districts across the state.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina budget includes an average 2.5 percent pay increase for teachers and instructional support personal each of the next two years, for an average 5 percent increase over two years.

There's something extra for many districts across the state, in a $100 million state-subsidized supplement, of up to $4,250 per teacher.

However, the supplement will not include some school districts such as Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg.

Republican Sen. Phil Berger's office said the supplement was created to help counties that don't have the ability to provide high local teacher supplements as the large urban counties do. In addition, his office said the goal is to help lower-wealth counties compete, not take tax dollars from poorer counties and send them to richer counties.

Some education advocates say all counties should get this supplement that could help retain teachers.

Keith Poston, of WakeEd Partnership, said it's disappointing Wake County got cut out of the state-subsidized supplement.

"We're talking about 10% of the teaching workforce in the state sort of being cut out of something that would be really beneficial in an area where we're having a hard time attracting and retaining employees at all levels in the school system." said Poston, "Look, this is an area we've just seen in the last what 30 days, we've had a sick out. This affected bus drivers and bus transportation for our students. Just this week, we had a concern about cafeteria workers. This area, this market, Wake County, probably has more wage pressure than any other county in the state in terms of competition for jobs. And so the last thing we need to do is take another tool out of the hands of our schools to help pay for our staff to work for us."

This week, the Wake County school board approved its own 2022 bonus for all staff members in the amount of $3,750.

"It's really at the end of the day, it's not the county's job, to provide salaries for teachers, that attract and retain great talent," said Kris Nordstrom, NC Justice Center Senior Policy Analyst. "That's really the job of the legislature.

"When you actually look at who's going to benefit, it disproportionately benefits districts that serve white students and white teachers," Nordstrom said. "So the average white teacher lives in a district that's going to be getting a larger teacher supplement under this program than the average black teacher. So this is actually something that's going to widen discrepancies in many ways."

Former Wake County teacher Gina Guzzo got out of the industry, partly because of the pay.

"The really great feeling you have when you're teaching and helping kids, that isn't something that pays your mortgage or pays your water bill," Guzzo said. "So ultimately, that was a definite big factor in why I decided to leave."

Guzzo also said the state increases are still not enough.

"When you calculate the cost of inflation, I mean, it's really almost a loss at that point," Guzzo said. "And so I don't want to sound like teachers are ungrateful for that raise. I mean, you need all the help you can get, but it's just not enough to keep up with other markets, other career opportunities."

Sen. Berger's office said the funding is based on a formula using the following factors with associated weightings:

  • 65%: County Tax Base (Taxable property/Sales Ratio)
  • 25%: Median Household Income
  • 10%: Effective Tax Rate (Tax Rate/Sales Ratio)

Democratic Sen. Dan Blue said he fully supports funding low-wealth counties and is in favor of supplementing poorer counties so they get a quality teacher in every classroom. But he said they picked and chose who should get supplements and claims counties represented by Democrats were punished.

Berger's office said counties getting the cap of $4,250 per teacher include Bertie, Gates, Graham, Greene, Hertford, Jones, Tyrrell and Washington.

His office said this puts some counties closer to the higher-wealth, urban counties, allowing them to compete to hire high-quality teachers.