Gov. McCrory’s proposed revised budget for K-12 education for the upcoming fiscal year maintains the status quo for public investments in public schools. Under the Governor’s budget, state funding per student remains well below pre-recession spending when adjusted for inflation and schools will continue to be hurting for resources.*
Teacher pay is just one thing on a long list that needs to be addressed so that public schools are able to deliver a top-notch education to all students. And while additional funding for pay increases for educators is much welcomed, this increase is largely delivered as one-time bonuses. As the only major component of the Governor’s education budget that is possible under the tax-cut constrained reality, it leaves far more needed to ensure every child’s access to a quality education.
Consequently, the Governor’s proposed budget once again challenges schools to do more with fewer resources and support despite heightened expectations regarding student achievement.
Here are key items in the K-12 education budget.
- Fully funds enrollment growth, with the use of General Fund dollar, lottery dollars and other receipts ($46.8 million)
- Additional funding provided for pay raises for teachers, school leaders, and other school-based employees ($474 million); also implements a new salary schedule for teachers.
- Nearly half of funding for pay raises represents one-time bonus payments to educators, and thus does not represent a permanent raise.
- Teachers in the initial 20 years of their career receive a permanent experience-based pay raise. Veteran teachers with 25 years or more teaching experience do not receive a permanent pay raise, but rather a one-time $5,000 bonus payment.
- Principals and Assistant Principals receive a permanent experience-based pay raise whereas other certified school personnel receive a one-time bonus payment of up to $3,500, and school-based employees receive a one-time bonus payment of up to $3,000.
- Provides funding for 13 new early colleges, which allow high school students to earn college credit while completing their high school diploma ($4.03 million).
- Appropriates $20 million of education lottery dollars for schools to acquire technology such as digital content, instructional resources, and professional learning development for educators.
- Appropriates $10 million of education lottery dollars for classroom supplies and equipment. Funding for these resources has typically been provided via General Fund appropriations while the original intent of lottery dollars were to supplement, not replace, General Fund dollars for public schools.
- Provides no new dollars for textbooks, professional development for teachers, or school nurses to edge us closer to national standards and improve educational outcomes.
Ensuring that North Carolina’s more than 1.5 million students receive a quality education is critical to the state’s future prospects and promoting healthy local communities. The stakes are high and Governor and policy makers should do a better job of making sure that public schools have the resources necessary to boost student achievement.
*State funding for teacher pay raises in Governor’s proposed budget is not included in comparison to pre-recession state spending per student in order to align with previous budgeting practice, which included this funding in the Reserves section of state budget.