North Carolina teacher says newly approved raises 'insulting and demoralizing'

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Tuesday, October 3, 2023
Veteran teacher not happy with pay raises for NC teachers
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State educators are calling the approved pay raises in the newly approved state budget insult, say the increase doesn't come close to the rate of inflation

State educators are calling the approved pay raises in the newly approved state budget an insult.

They're upset the increase doesn't come close to the rate of inflation. Additionally -- veteran teachers are receiving a lower raise than new people being brought on board.

"It feels more than an appeasement than a priority," said Wake County teacher Rodney Obaigbena of the raises.

He's been teaching for the last 10 years and says he's actively looking for a second job.

"My rent's gone up almost $2,000 a month. So after we get our monthly paycheck and bills are paid, there's not much left over," said Obaigbena.

The budget, which was written and passed by Republicans, gives teachers an average pay raise of seven percent over the next two years.

New teachers get a higher percentage while veterans will see a raise of around three-and-a-half percent.

North Carolina State Superintendent Catherine Truitt is expressing her disappointment.

She says salary is a "key component to addressing the teaching pipeline challenges in our state" and that "salaries in other professions have kept pace with inflation, however, that is not the case with education."

Senate Leader Phil Berger says he's not happy with everything in the budget, but there are some overall wins.

"The adoption of Medicaid expansion, the significant tax reductions for the people of the State of North Carolina," said Berger.

There are some education investments, one being that the state will fully cover the cost of the reduced-priced meal co-pays for families who qualify.

Other highlights include more than $250 million for school construction costs and for the first time -- funding for the TA to Teachers program.

But teacher pay remains a point of contention.

"It's particularly insulting and demoralizing," said former Wake County Teacher Eleanor Goettee, who has friends still teaching because they can't afford to retire. "When you retire at 30 years, you don't get your full salary. So you stay until 36 years or 40 years so that you can at least when you leave, have the same salary that you made for 35 years. It needs attention. The structure needed attention."

ABC11 did reach out to the Wake County School District to see where teacher vacancies stand. There are more than 250 teacher positions open right now, which is fewer than this time last year.

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