Gov. Pat McCrory asked his state Board of Education Wednesday to guarantee extra pay for all teachers now enrolled in masters degree programs, something the board chairman said it could not do.
The legislature ended masters pay for teachers who wont earn their advanced degree by the end of the current 2013-14 school year.
But teachers who dont finish their programs until May or June could also be affected unless the board changes its policy. That policy requires teachers planning to graduate next spring to have submitted all their paperwork by April 1. Teachers who already have theirs masters would not lose their pay supplement.
McCrory told the board Wednesday morning he wanted it to adopt a policy to extend the extra pay roughly a 10 percent raise to all teachers who are now pursuing masters degrees, regardless of when they plan to graduate.
Masters pay for teachers is one education policy I think we can change right now, he told the board. . . . Ive worked with my budget office, the Office of Management and Budget. Ive talked to our budget director, (asking) Is there any way we can find sufficient revenue, to find money and get them the dollars they deserve? My budget director said absolutely.
Board Chairman Bill Cobey said Wednesday the board could not adopt a policy to extend pay beyond the spring graduates.
I dont want to contradict anybody, Cobey said. Thats under the legislature. The legislature would like to correct it.
After McCrorys appearance, his spokeswoman Kim Genardo and his senior education adviser Eric Guckian said the state school board could adopt a policy extending masters pay to all teachers currently in masters programs, even though the budget passed by the state legislature and signed by McCrory prohibits it.
The extra pay would be for 3,000 currently in the pipe, Genardo said. Weve been told we have the authority to do it. If you are currently in (school) getting your degree if they take two years to do it, or one year.
Extending the pay supplement would cost $10 million, she said. She did not elaborate on where the money had been found.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Genardo said McCrory was only seeking to extend the eligibility deadline from April 1 to May 1, not every teacher in a masters program. The money for those teachers is already in the budget, she said. She said the $10 million the governor referenced was for teachers in their first year of a masters program, and will be in McCrorys next budget.
Some legislators have said in recent weeks that they want to reinstate the extra pay for teachers who earn advanced degrees after next spring.
The state board has been talking for at least a month about a way to make sure that the teachers who graduate next spring will qualify for the pay. With the budget ending bonuses after the 2013-14 school year, board members are concerned that late paperwork from spring masters graduates will permanently prevent them from getting their bonus pay.
Board members will vote on their plan Thursday.