Another legislative session decides that permanent teacher pay raises aren't important enough to fund. Their alternative? A one-time bonus that pays teachers two dollars per day.
New details on teacher pay in the 2015-16 budget have slowly come out of Raleigh this afternoon and evening, and among them is word that all state employees, including teachers and professors, will receive one-time $750 bonuses rather than increases through the salary scale.
As NC Policy Watch's Lindsay Wagner breaks it down, that's about $62 per month, before taxes. Or put another way, about two bucks a day. Before taxes.
New teachers, as agreed upon in 2014, will see their salaries increased to $35,000.
According to the Raleigh News & Observer, the agreement on teacher and state employee pay was reached after plenty of back-and-forth between House and Senate leaders. The House pushed for increases in state pay scales but smaller bonuses, while the Senate pushed for the one-time awards and brokered with an offer to put money back in elsewhere in the education budget.
My speculation--and it's only speculation--is that money could be used to save a portion of the teacher assistant jobs previously on the Senate's chopping block.
It costs serious money to keep our government open as they squabble over the budget. How much? We can measure our late budget's cost by the teacher salaries it could fund.
Have you ever been to Hillcrest Elementary School*? It's located in Alamance County, part of the Alamance-Burlington school district. Its mascot is a Hornet, one that in particular likes to encourage young people to read. The school's webpage is covered in student art, colorful self-portraits that cross the rainbow spectrum. There are about 35 teachers on staff.
Why is a faculty of 35 employees significant?
Because we could pay every teacher at Hillcrest Elementary for an entire year with what our overdue budget has already cost North Carolina taxpayers.
Let's revisit how our North Carolina legislature has yet to pass a 2015-16 budget. It was officially due by the end of June, which was 56 days ago. When it became apparent that leaders in the Republican-controlled House and Senate wouldn't reach a budget compromise by then, they passed a Continuing Resolution to keep government open while they worked out the details.
Then, they took a vacation.
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