Local teachers react to McCrory’s two percent pay increase announcement

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It’s not much, but local teachers say they are thankful for Governor McCrory’s proposed 2 percent increase in teacher salary.

They say it’s a good first step toward fair pay and hope more salary increases will be budgeted in the future.

Brook Fearn has been teaching for seven years in Forsyth County Schools. “I’ve actually never received a pay increase since I’ve started teaching,” she told FOX8.

The discouraging pay drove Fearn to consider other career options. She’s even interviewed for jobs outside education. But in the end, she knew she was a good teacher and was meant to be an educator.

Fearn is now pursuing a master’s degree at HPU, hoping to be an administrator one day.

“Teachers would just like a little bit of respect, and this is a good place to start,” she said of Governor McCrory’s announcements Wednesday.

Veteran teachers may also be relieved.

After the governor’s announcement to increase base teacher pay earlier this year, many teachers who had years of experience felt they were left out of the promise for fair pay.

His latest proposals include $265 million for the 2 percent educator pay increase and a $1,000 pay raise for all state employees.

The Governor’s full budget request will be released next week. The legislature will have the final say.

Governor McCrory also wants to initiate a new teacher pay system called “Career Pathways for Teachers.”

CPT would determine teacher salary based on experience, performance, willingness to work in a hard-to-staff school, leadership and mentoring. The system would also account for whether teachers are working in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) position, some of the hardest to keep filled.

Planning and piloting CPT next year is estimated to cost $9 million, said the Governor’s staff.

The following year would cost $18-20 million.

The plan is to fully implement CPT by 2017-18.

Guilford County’s Mentor Teacher of the Year Paula Williams teaches students with learning disabilities at Pilot Elementary. Teachers used to get paid for mentoring and guiding new teachers. Now she does this work in addition to her full time duties “out of the goodness of her heart,” Williams said with a laugh.

“Not that I’m teaching for the money, but that is my income, and I feel like any raise, even the 2 percent, is going to recognize that teaching is important,” she explained.

Williams is “thrilled” about the Governor’s announcement. She, of course, wishes the salary increase was more.

With 25 years in GCS, Williams said a raise would be an encouraging nod to veteran teachers.

“If we really want to value education, and be an ‘education state,'” she pointed out, “I think it’s time to step up and give teachers the raise they deserve.”

Dr. Don Martin is the former Superintendent for Forsyth County Schools and teaches at High Point University. Pay has become a “morale issue” for educators, he explained.

“That clearly is going to impact a brand new student teacher wanting to go into the profession. If you happen to be from Connecticut, you might be thinking you want to go back to Connecticut,” he added.

They hope if the proposals pass through the legislative budget session, the pay increases will be a first step to addressing teacher turnover rates in North Carolina.

“There’s still a lot of details, and there’s some out there 2019-18 decisions,” Dr. Martin said. “But there’s something immediate to say to teachers- we value you.”