Under the Dome

Dome: NC ranks near bottom in school spending, salaries

jfrank@newsobserver.comFebruary 28, 2013 

Only three states are expected to spend less per student than North Carolina in the current school year, according to the latest rankings from the National Education Association.

North Carolina’s per pupil spending for the 2012-13 school year is estimated at $8,433, with only Texas, Utah and Arizona spending less per student. The U.S. average is $11,068.

The state also ranks No. 48 in teacher salary among the 50 states and District of Columbia, paying an average $45,947. Only Oklahoma, Mississippi and South Dakota pay less. The U.S. average is $56,383.

The rankings in per pupil spending and average teacher salary represent a decline in the NEA rankings from the previous year. North Carolina spent $8,492 per student in the 2011-12 school year and paid an average teacher salary of $46,605.

The NEA is a national group representing teachers that advocates for more education spending. Rodney Ellis, president the N.C. Association of Educators, said the fall in the rankings is distressing. “Now the average North Carolina teacher earns nearly $3,000 less per year and it is hurting our state’s ability to hire and retain quality educators,” he said in a statement.

Ellis is calling for N.C. lawmakers to put more resources into education. “Our children deserve a public education system that values the best and brightest educators and will work to recruit and retain talent in our classrooms,” he said.

Industrial commissioner named

Gov. Pat McCrory made an appointment to the state Industrial Commission on Thursday. Andrew T. Heath, a Wilmington lawyer who has defended cases brought before the commission.

Heath, if confirmed by the General Assembly, will replace Staci Meyer, a longtime state worker who was close to former Democratic Govs. Bev Perdue and Mike Easley. Her term ends April 30.

Like several other state panels, the six-member Industrial Commission is caught in a GOP effort to streamline and replace current members with their appointments. The General Assembly is also considering reducing their terms.

The commission hears cases involving injured workers. A series in The N&O last year showed the commission failed to take action against a large number of companies that failed to carry workers’ compensation insurance.

Challenger likely for McIntyre

National Republicans are gleefully cheering the news that Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre is likely to face a primary challenger.

New Hanover County Commissioner Jonathan Barfield, the only Democrat on the board, announced his candidacy Tuesday. “It’s right politically, as well as for my family right now,” he told the Wilmington Star-News. “I wanted to put the word out now and let people know who I am and what I’m about.”

National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Prill sent an email asking: “So is this the bittersweet end for Mike McIntyre? Not only has the NRCC announced that McIntyre will be a top target for the 2014 election cycle, now he is facing a tough primary challenge.”

McIntyre survived being a GOP target in 2012 with a razor-thin victory against Republican former state Sen. David Rouzer, who told Dome recently that is he considering another bid.

Staff writers John Frank and Craig Jarvis

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