Pay raises for North Carolina teachers to kick in after Senate bill signed by Governor

Sean Coffey Image
Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Pay raises for North Carolina teachers to kick in
It's not clear when the now-approved raises will officially hit paychecks.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- On Monday, Governor Roy Cooper signed legislation that will officially pave the way for teacher raises statewide. Senate Bill 332, which authorizes the three-percent raises for teachers first approved by lawmakers last year, became law -- but educators say more needs to be done.

Elliot Brody's been with Wake County Public Schools for a decade.

"When I first got into the county, it was extremely competitive county to get a job. And if you go to a job fair, there was people flowing out of the building resumes were stacked up real high in front of everybody's tables. Now, it's slim pickings, to be honest," he said.

Even with that help now coming at the state level in the form of three-percent raises, Brody says the last few years have been tough on morale -- and he's seen many of his colleagues step away.

"The truth is that they're irreplaceable. If you take a veteran teacher out of their position you can't replace them with just someone off the streets. It's not that type of profession," he said.

Teacher pay has been an issue front and center in the Triangle in the wake of Durham Public School's pay crisis that spurred walkouts, and the resignation of Superintendent Pascal Mubenga. Durham County passed a new budget last month that includes an increase in funding for DPS of more than $20 million.

In Wake County, dozens of public school employees rallied for better pay at a budget meeting in late May before County Commissioners approved a more than $58 million increase in funding for Wake schools.

The head of Wake County's teachers' union says the onus shouldn't be on them.

"The General Assembly needs to do the right thing. It's their constitutional mandate to fully fund public schools all across the state. And that's why locals have this burden of sort of passing as much money as possible to fund public schools," said Christina Spears, President of Wake NCAE.

In a statement after signing SB 332, Governor Cooper called on lawmakers to step up.

"The legislature should pay our teachers significantly more as North Carolina has already dropped to 38th in the country in teacher pay and invests nearly $5,000 less per student than the national average," Cooper said. "Our state has the resources to make meaningful investments to help our public school students and now is the time to do it."

It's not clear when the now-approved raises will officially hit paychecks, but they will include back pay back to July 1.