Editorial slams lagging principal pay in North Carolina

administrator-salary-sch450If you have the time, head over to WRAL for a new editorial lambasting North Carolina’s system of paying school principals, which has been under intense scrutiny in recent days.

As Policy Watch reported last month, the state’s school administrator pay, which ranks a lowly 49th in the nation, is in the spotlight as a legislative committee considers fixes that may or may not include scrapping the state’s oft-criticized salary schedule for principals.

Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns WRAL, weighed in with an editorial Friday, arguing, like many advocates, that a face-lift for the principal salary schedule without increased funding would do little.

Read on:

Perhaps we’re getting numb to all the bad news about our state’s funding of public education. The recent revelation doesn’t help — North Carolina’s principal salaries are the second lowest in the nation.

Well, given what we pay our public school teachers, sadly we’re not surprised.

In North Carolina, average principal pay has increased 4 percent from 2007 — just before the Great Recession — through 2015.

Among North Carolina’s neighboring states, where average salaries are already higher, increases over the same eight-year period were: 12 percent in Georgia, 16 percent in South Carolina, 11 percent in Tennessee and 15 percent in Virginia.

By any measure, that’s no “comeback,” it’s a “Carolina fallback” that reflects the continued neglect of our public schools. This needs to be fixed.

Don’t just take our word for it. Just last month State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey – a well-credentialed conservative – said his fellow board members needed to “encourage and prod the General Assembly to take action” to increase school administrator pay.

That said, partisans on both side of the aisle are optimistic that North Carolina lawmakers will make good on plans to improve the pay schedule, even though efforts in previous years have stalled.

GOP leaders in the legislature expect to have proposals for revamping the system completed by the end of the year.

In the meantime, Capitol Broadcasting offered some pointers on how the committee should focus its efforts:

Their committee recently presented a plan that would eliminate the current salary schedule for administrators and replace it with a lump-sum that superintendents could use, as they saw fit, to hire and pay principals. Additionally, the plan would increase average pay for administrators and provide for performance bonuses to reduce the drastic differences between urban and rural districts as well as those that are high-wealth and low-wealth.

But without adequate funding, simply replacing one pay plan with another is, as the saying goes, little more than rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

Our legislators should be embarrassed. It is unreasonable and unfair to expect the best when you pay the worst in the nation.  Poll after poll shows North Carolinians are willing to pay to make their schools better.  The General Assembly needs to share the view of the people that elected them and support public education.

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