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N.C. Budget Deal Couples Teacher Raises With Pay-Structure Overhaul

Teachers returning to schools in North Carolina this fall could see raises averaging 7 percent under a tentative budget deal, but they would come with a radical revamping of the state salary schedule.

Among other things, the deal eliminates "longevity pay" increases and establishes a new differentiated-pay program.

Pay in the Tar Heel State has become something of an embarrassment, falling to 46th in the nation according to National Education Association tables. That has prompted a number of critical news articles and shined a spotlight on this year's budget negotiations.

Under the conference report hammered out by lawmakers, the state's 37-step schedule for paying teachers would be reduced to just six steps, with boosts coming every five years rather than annually. Teachers would be transitioned onto the new scale, so the actual amount of their raises would vary quite a lot based on how much they were previously making. No teacher would make less than he or she did the prior year, but actual raises would vary from less than 1 percent to more than 18 percent, according to a document obtained by the local news station wral.com. 

The pay raises come at the expense of former longevity payments for more-senior teachers, leading the state teacher's association to call the size of the increases misleading.

Notably, the final deal doesn't include a plan Republican senators were considering that would institute a voluntary pay-for-tenure swap. (A law that phased out tenure for all by 2018 was ultimately declared unconstitutional.)

Meanwhile, under the differentiated pay program, local school boards must submit proposals to establish differentiated pay bonuses based on teaching in hard-to-staff subjects or schools, teacher-evaluation scores, or the assignment of extra duties.

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