Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) told members of his local school board this week that his top goals for the upcoming legislation session will be to give all teachers a $2,000 raise, and convince his colleagues to restore funding for the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program.
Here’s more from the Wilmington Star-News:
While the General Assembly has promised new teachers a $2,000 raise in 2015-2016, resulting in a starting salary of $35,000, Iler supports giving all teachers the $2,000 raise. To do this, the state will need to find more than $200 million in the 2015-2016 budget. Iler said he will advocate for the increase in teacher compensation despite the price tag.
“Teachers are the heart of the classroom,” Iler said. “They are the ones who are imparting knowledge to our children. We’ve got to take care of them and keep the best in Brunswick County and North Carolina.”
Iler also supports reinstating the Teaching Fellows program, which awarded $28,000 scholarships to North Carolina high school seniors who qualified and promised to teach in the state for at least four years. If fully phased in, the program will cost $12 million a year. Iler said the gains exceed the cost as the state gets highly qualified teachers and the program provides the means for teachers, who could not have gone to college, to attain degrees.
The pledge to help improve teacher retention and recruitment comes as Brunswick County Schools experienced a 15 percent teacher turnover rate (120 teachers) in 2013-14, above the state average.
The Republican-controlled legislature eliminated funding for Teaching Fellows in 2012. The nationally-recognized program offered partial scholarships to gifted high school students who agreed to teach four years in North Carolina’s public schools.
Still, Iler’s biggest hurdle may not be simply winning over his colleagues – it may be finding adequate funding in the state budget. Revenue collections at the end of the year were running $190 million below expectations.