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After 52 Days, Republicans Still Plan to Give Teachers Less Than Other State Employees

Raleigh

It has been 52 days since Governor Roy Cooper sent Republican leaders a balanced budget compromise offer that included an 8.5% teacher pay raise that would keep North Carolina competitive in teacher salaries. And for 52 days, Republicans have refused to respond to that compromise offer, insisting on their 3.8% over two years teacher raise and leaving teachers hanging in the balance as school is back in session.

 

Now, as they split the budget up into “mini-budgets” to skirt the process, it’s clear they still intend to give teachers less than other state employees. What’s worse – Republicans have pulled a procedural move to shut down the amendment process and prevent Democrats from offering better teacher pay raises.

From EdNC:

During a press conference after the House session today, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said that the bill might be handled via a conference report negotiated between the House and Senate rather than a bill. The difference in a conference report is that no amendments can be added.

Democrats had hoped to run a number of amendments to make changes to the legislation, including giving non-certified public school employees a $15 minimum wage — like most other state employees — addressing teacher pay increases, and restoring master’s pay.

Why are Republicans insisting that teachers get a smaller pay raise than other state employees? When will they present a counteroffer?

Meanwhile, Governor Cooper was in New Bern yesterday visiting an elementary school, bringing school supplies and talking about the need for a significant teacher pay raise. The school, which was affected by Hurricane Florence, has moved to a year-round calendar to help students with the fallout from Florence. That means teachers have sacrificed their chance at earning additional needed money during summer break in order to give students a better shot at success.

 

Read more about Governor Cooper’s visit to JT Barber Elementary. 

WNCT: Governor Cooper visits JT Barber Elementary, talks teacher salary and budget stalemate
By Madison Forsey
August 28, 2019

The governor sat down with a panel of teachers to talk about how the school has changed since the storm.

“They went to a year-round school system so they could handle the kids better…and so they wouldn’t get so far behind on their work,” said Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina.

The new year-round system has come with its challenges for teachers and students.

Many teachers talked about how the schedule gets rid of the long summer break, meaning they aren’t able to get a second job.

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“The General Assembly just passed a 5% raise over two years for state employees. You mean we’re going to pay our teachers less than our other employees? That’s wrong, we need to do better than that,” said Cooper.

Cooper talked about re-instituting master’s pay, which school administrators agreed would make it easier to attract and keep teachers.

 

 

WECT: Burgaw Elementary students treated to brand new school supplies
By Jesslyn Ferentz

August 28, 2019

Teachers can spend hundreds of dollars of their own money for supplies for their students each year. This donation is part of Governor Roy Cooper’s School Supply Drive. Cooper asked state employees and communities to donate school supplies to help teachers and students prepare for a successful school year.

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Last September, Hurricane Florence caused major damage to the school and displaced teachers and students. Many are still recovering.

"It is really my goal that we would be able to avoid school supply lists all together in the future and we would be able to supply them to all of our families,” said Buchanan.

 

Sun Journal: Governor Cooper visits J. T. Barber
By Bill Hand
August 28, 2019

The governor complimented the school on “Your resilience after the awful flooding you got after the hurricane. I understand the school was flooded for a period of time.”

He asked for a description of how the school reacted to the hurricane and Phillips responded, telling him that the first task was locating all the students – many had been displaced and a large number still have not returned to class because their homes were declared unlivable. She said that “a wealth of donations came in from all across the country” and that, once students’ whereabouts were known, the staff went door to door helping residents know what their options were.

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The question of teacher pay raises got a lot of response from the teachers and from Doyle as well. “I came here from Texas,” fourth grade teacher Erica Lopez said. “I was shocked how much lower the pay here is.”

Teacher Kimberly Gaines said that Georgia also has higher pay for teachers and said she had chosen to teach in North Carolina only because she had family here.

Doyle agreed that, when it comes to recruiting teachers, North Carolina “really has a market problem.”

Cooper said he was working to get teachers higher pay in the state, adding that he is proposing a school bond “as the most fiscally responsible way to go... we haven’t had a school bond since 1996, and the counties need some help.”

He said a bond would go a long way in improving facilities and that Craven County could receive $18 million if one passes.

 

WCTI: Governor visits New Bern school, talks budget concerns
By Tyler Hardin and Sydney Basden
August 28, 2019

Cooper donated supplies to JT Barber Elementary School and played games with students in the after-school program. He also met with teachers and administrators to discuss his push for a budget compromise.

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“Medicaid expansion needs to be a part of these budget negotiations,” Cooper explained, “but we’re always fighting for greater teacher pay, more school construction and investment in public education.”

 

WITN: Governor visits New Bern school talks budget concerns
August 28, 2019 

The Governor held a round table discussion with the school's principal, several teachers, as well as the district superintendent.

A number of those teachers discussed the need for higher pay, and their personal difficulties with simply making ends meet with their current salary.

He also discussed the need for increased funding for public schools, referring to his proposed public school bond, saying the time is now for bi-partisan conversation to get an agreed budget budget.

"We've made a compromise proposal and have been waiting now 51 days for a response to that compromise. We want to see some movement, particularly in the area of education. And it's clear we need to invest in our public schools, and we have the money to do it. Let's at least negotiate that," Cooper said.



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