N.C. school superintendents encouraged but not happy with proposed state budgets

06/17/2014 3:37 PM

08/05/2014 6:51 PM

This post has been corrected to clarify that the superintendents were representing a coalition of the 10 largest districts in the state.

School superintendents from four of the state’s school districts said Tuesday that they appreciate legislators’ plans to give teachers raises but not how they’re planning to fund those raises.

“Creating salary increases by slashing other areas of the education budget is not a formula that leads to academic success,” said Tim Markley, the superintendent of New Hanover County Schools.

Markley was joined by superintendents from Wake, Johnston and Cumberland counties at a press conference to discuss the state budget negotiations. The superintendents were representing a coalition of the 10 largest districts in the state, which combined represent about 45 percent of all NC public school students.

In their budget, state Senators proposed an 11 percent pay raise but funded it in part by moving the money from elsewhere in the education budget, including funding for teachers’ aides and the Department of Public Instruction.

House lawmakers proposed a smaller increase and tied the funding to an increase in lottery sales. That increase, they said, would come from more lottery advertising, which they also funded in their budget. Those sales projections have since been questioned.

Markley urged lawmakers to align with Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposed budget, which would increase salaries for new teachers by 7.1 percent. Both the House and governor’s proposed budgets would also create Career Pathways for school employees.

Johnston County Superintendent Ed Croom said lawmakers also should reinstate pay raises for teachers who pursue master’s degrees.

“Graduate studies improve any profession. A person who invests in their personal growth should be rewarded,” Croom said after the press conference.

The superintendents also spoke in favor of the state’s Common Core Standards, which both chambers want to change to varying degrees, and Read to Achieve, a program designed to make sure that students are able to read at grade level at the end of third grade. McCrory recently signed into law changes to the Read to Achieve program designed to take care of some of the problems parents and teachers had with it.. But Frank Till, superintendent of Cumberland County Schools, said both Common Core and Reach to Achieve had room to improve.

“As superintendents we support Common Core,” Till said. “We know it’s not perfect, but we’re committed to helping fix it. If you’re going to have rigorous standards we recognize that this is a good starting point.”

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