JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- Gov. Pat McCrory returned to his own high school stomping grounds Monday morning to announce teacher pay raises coming over the next two years in North Carolina.
The announcement involved local and state officials at Ragsdale High School.
McCrory said, "It's time we start showing respect for our teachers right here in North Carolina."
He explained teachers have only received a 1.2 percent raise during the last five years. This year, he said that will change.
"We will increase by nearly 14 percent over the next 2 years the base pay for teachers to $35,000 per year," the governor announced to applause.
In the first year, salaries will increase to $33,000 and then to $35,000 in year two.
Teachers with six and seven years of experience currently earn a base salary of less than $33,000. McCrory said over two years this will impact 42,000 teachers who have been teaching less than 10 years.
Educators who have worked in the state more than a decade, however, will not see a pay raise yet.
"You know, the money doesn't just fall out of the sky," said Gov. McCrory. "But our goal is to roll out more proposals in the coming months."
He and other speakers repeatedly emphasized their intent to push for pay raises for all teachers, but no specific plan was announced Monday.
The goal is to attract and retain more teachers in the state, which is becoming less competitive with other states regarding teacher salaries.
"This announcement today by the governor is a great first step," said High Point University Associate Professor Dr. Barbara Mallory, who works in the School of Education.
She said she was thrilled to hear legislators are valuing the work of educators across the state and reflecting appreciation in this pay raise for new teachers.
Dr. Mallory added, "The base salary needs to go up. But the ceiling – we need to look at veteran teachers and how we can compensate them for the work they bring, the expertise they bring."
She said the second step would be developing a system to reward both long-time and high-performing teachers.
Today's news was especially exciting for education majors.
Ellie Tehan is earning her master’s degree in Education from HPU. "There's definitely a thought in my mind to go back Maryland, which is where I'm from, and where teacher salaries are much higher. But I've really come to love NC and this is definitely an extra incentive for me to stay," she pointed out.
Duchante Davis is a third-year HPU education major who hopes to teach middle school social studies or science. "I'm not going into teaching for the pay. I'm doing it to be more of a mentor and guide for under privileged children," said Davis.
But, they agreed, teachers still need to make a living. Davis said this news makes it more realistic for him to seek a job in North Carolina when he graduates.
Tehan said today's news is great for new teachers but points out how valuable experience is in the classroom. "All teachers, no matter how long they've been teaching, deserve good compensation," she concluded.