Down payment on advocacy coalition’s teacher pay plan? $430 million

Last month, a coalition of seven organizations presented a four-part teacher pay plan to the North Carolina General Assembly’s Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force.  Backers of the plan included the following advocacy organizations:

  • North Carolina Parent Teacher Association
  • Professional Educators of North Carolina
  • North Carolina Association of Educators
  • North Carolina Association of School Administrators
  • North Carolina School Boards Association
  • North Carolina Justice Center – Education and Law Project
  • Public School Forum of North Carolina

The centerpiece of their proposal is to “make teachers whole.” Teachers’ current step on the state salary schedule is the same as it had been since the Democrats froze salaries in 2008. Republicans continued the practice when they assumed power of the legislature in 2011.  These seven groups call on legislators to make up for lost time and advance teachers to the step that they should be on, that is, had the freeze never occurred.

These groups have been reluctant to reveal the estimated cost of implementing their plan. I contacted the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Financial and Business Services (FBS) Division to obtain the estimated cost of “making teachers whole.”  They were gracious enough to provide an answer – $430 million.  (Note: In my experience, the folks who work in the FBS Division have always been respectful and responsive to inquiries from the public.  I think other state government agencies can learn a thing or two from them.)

Now it is clear why these seven groups never reveal the cost of their plan to the public.  All told, I estimate that implementing their entire plan, which includes reinstating master’s degree supplements and raising the pay for beginning teachers, would cost the state well over $500 million, i.e., a half a billion dollars, next year alone.  The cost of Republicans’ plan to raise base pay for beginning teachers would alone cost taxpayers an estimated $60 to $70 million a year over the next two years, while reinstating master’s supplements would add millions more.

How do these seven groups propose to pay for their half billion-dollar plan?  Curiously, they haven’t said much about that…

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