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North Carolina Moves to Raise Teacher Pay, But Leaves Out the Most Experienced

North Carolina lawmakers want to give Tar Heel teachers their second pay raises since 2014. But just as with the salary increases of two years ago, the states' most experienced teachers are set to be largely left out.

Lawmakers say teachers would see, on average, 4.7 percent pay bumps, as a result of the new budget bill. Officials estimate that the move would bring the state's average teachers' salary to $50,000, when local contributions are included, reports the Associated Press. But teachers who have been in the classroom for 25 or more years would see little or no pay increases, with the state salary schedule's maximum barely nudging from $50,000 to $51,000.  

"From year 25 to retirement veteran teachers will receive the same pay, whether they retire at 30 years or 45 years,'' Debi Beckman, a veteran teacher in Buncombe County, told the Citizen-Times of Ashville. "No raise. Nothing. In 2010 a teacher with 33 years' experience made $52,550. Today a teacher with 33 years' experience makes $51,000. How did salaries go down for our most experienced educators."

Lawmakers expect the new salary schedule to move the state from ninth to  seventh among 12 southeastern states in terms of teacher pay, reports the Citizen-Times. While starting salaries aren't changing, every step in the ladder is slotted a pay increase. 

"Again, experienced teachers in North Carolina get shortchanged," North Carolina Association of Educators (NACE) president Mark Jewell told the Associated Press.

This echoes what former NACE president Rodney Ellis told my co-blogger Stephen Sawchuk after the 2014 budget deal.

"Veteran educators who in my opinion deserve far greater consideration than they received, are quite disappointed in this budget," said Ellis.

The new budget, which takes effect in January, also places a heavy emphasis on bonuses for teachers based on their students' test scores. Teachers can earn as much as $50 for every student who passes a Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or Career and Technical Education certification tests. Third grade teachers, meanwhile, would be able to earn as much as $6,800 in bonuses based on a value-added formula for students' reading scores, part of a larger effort in the state to ensure that all students can read at grade level by the end of third grade. The budget also introduces a three-year performance-pay pilot program, which would run in 10 districts. 

The News & Observer reports that Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, is expected to sign the budget later this month. 

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