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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The average Guilford County or Forsyth County teacher only earns less than $57,000 annually during a 30-year career, a study of the nation’s 90 largest school districts found.

The Smart Money 2.0 study by the National Council on Teaching Quality, a Washington-based think tank focused on education, found that when adjusted for the cost of living, teachers will make a total of $1.71 million in Guilford County Schools and $1.69 million in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools over the course of their careers — right around the national average.

“How teachers are rewarded for their performance, compensation, leads into a lot of strategies to attract teachers to the profession and keeps them in the profession,” said Shannon Holston, NCTQ chief of policy and programs.

The study tracked five North Carolina districts: Guilford County Schools, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Cumberland County Schools and Wake County School District.

In those five, the starting salaries are within $2,000 of each other in and they have average annual growth rates between 1.3 percent and 1.5 percent.

Teacher pay has been a major issue across the state, with the National Education Association in April finding the average teacher salary in North Carolina was $54,150 — putting the state No. 33 nationally. 

Teachers went without pay raises during the 2-year-long budget stalemate between the Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. 

The state House of Representatives earlier this month included an average 5.5 percent raise for K-12 teachers over two years along with other one-time bonuses for educators in their proposed spending plan. 

House and Senate members now must come up with a single version of their spending plan for the governor’s consideration.