Gov. Cooper outlines pay raise plan for Winston-Salem teachers

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Governor Roy Cooper took the time to walk a handful of teachers at R.J. Reynolds High School through his proposal to raise teacher pay 10 percent over the next two years. The plan would give North Carolina teachers a 5 percent raise each year.

“We trust them with the men and women who are in the front of those classrooms and we trust that they are helping to shape and mold our kids into good people,” Governor Cooper said.

The goal is to make North Carolina teachers the highest paid on average in the Southeast in three years, and have average North Carolina teacher pay hit the national average in five years.

Currently, North Carolina is ranked 41st in average teacher pay, according to NEA numbers.

“Some of the saddest things that I’ve heard are educators who love what they do, but are telling their children, ‘I don’t believe I would do this if I were you,’” Cooper said, addressing concerns for teachers who aren’t seeing the robust recruitment of teachers as in years past.

The governor’s proposal includes a $150 stipend for teachers every year for school supplies.

Some worry that administrators and school workers like bus drivers may be left behind in a pay bump, but the governor clarified that his proposal leads with teachers, but doesn’t exclude other workers.

“Everybody’s going to be covered in the budget I propose, and there will be I think a very good plan understanding that investing in public schools is a holistic effort,” Cooper said.

The governor says he won’t need to raise taxes for the more than $800 million proposal, saying with increasing revenues all the state needs to do is reprioritize the budget because “the money is there.”

“The way we pay for this is to make sure that we make education the priority and not more tax breaks for corporations and tax breaks for those at the top,” Cooper said.