McCrory asks for bonus pay for more master's-seeking teachers

lbonner@newsobserver.comSeptember 4, 2013 

Gov. Pat McCrory asked his state Board of Education Wednesday to guarantee extra pay for all teachers now enrolled in master’s degree programs, something the board chairman said it could not do.

The legislature ended master’s pay for teachers who won’t earn their advanced degree by the end of the current 2013-14 school year.

But teachers who don’t 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 master’s 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 master’s degrees, regardless of when they plan to graduate.

“Master’s pay for teachers is one education policy I think we can change right now,” he told the board. “. . . I’ve worked with my budget office, the Office of Management and Budget. I’ve 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 don’t want to contradict anybody,” Cobey said. “That’s under the legislature. The legislature would like to correct it.”

After McCrory’s appearance, his spokeswoman Kim Genardo and his senior education adviser Eric Guckian said the state school board could adopt a policy extending master’s pay to all teachers currently in master’s 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. “We’ve 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.

Seeking extension

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 master’s 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 master’s program, and will be in McCrory’s 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 master’s graduates will permanently prevent them from getting their bonus pay.

Board members will vote on their plan Thursday.

Bonner: 919-829-4821

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