School district supports, and complains about, teacher pay increase

This weekend, the Herald-Sun examined the local costs of Governor McCrory’s teacher pay plan.  Local costs?  Yup.

You see, most North Carolina school districts use local funds to support permanent teaching positions.  For example, around one-quarter of the teaching positions in Durham are supported through local funding sources.  So, when the state mandates a teacher pay increase, school districts must pay their locally-funded teachers with funds allotted by their respective county commissions.  Gregory Childress of the Herald-Sun writes,

“We’re 100 percent behind our lower-paid teachers getting more competitive wages and being risen to the national average,” [Durham Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Aaron] Beaulieu said. “Most districts need to understand that the majority of that percentage is not coming from the state, it’s coming a lot of times as a local cost.”

DPS would see the added expense, Beaulieu said, because many of its early-career teachers, those with the lower salaries, are paid out of local funds while the district pays its more experienced teacher, those with higher salaries, out of its state appropriation.

So, to match the governor’s proposed pay increase for early-career teachers and to also make adjustments to local teacher pay supplements, the district would have to dig deeper into its local appropriation.

In other words, school district officials are receptive to teacher pay increases, so long as they do not have to pay for any of it directly.  But in the real world, that is not how it works.

Over the next few months, I expect officials from other school districts, including those who previously complained that public school teachers are underpaid, will carp about the local costs associated with raising teacher pay.  Kudos to Mr. Childress for writing about one of the first.

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