The average North Carolina teacher received a $1,900 raise this year.
The increase was enough to raise average teacher pay to just barely shy of the $50,000 figure that the Republican leadership in the General Assembly had promised.
That’s according to data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, first reported by WRAL. In December, the average teacher was on track to make $49,837 this school year, up from $47,941 last year.
That’s 99.7 percent of what many GOP candidates had cited in their elections this past fall – basically the same amount, but lacking the symbolism of the round number.
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The legislature and former Gov. Pat McCrory included a teacher pay raise in their budget last year. State leaders can’t take all of the credit for teacher pay, however. Many but not all school districts give teachers salary supplements, which vary in size around the state and raise the statewide average. Some Wake County teachers receive pay supplements of more than 20 percent.
In the 2015-16 school year, North Carolina ranked 41st in the country for teacher pay, according to the National Education Association, which used a slightly different figure ($47,985) from the one DPI provided for the same year.
The NEA hasn’t released its data for 2016-17 yet, so it’s unclear where North Carolina will rank after this nearly $2,000 average raise.
It’s also unclear what the state’s average teacher pay might be at the end of the school year, since the numbers out now only reflect the first semester.
But what is clear is that further raises will likely be a big part of budget discussions this spring, as the legislature puts together a state budget that will cover the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican legislative leaders Sen. Phil Berger and Rep. Tim Moore have all said they want to raise teacher pay.
Cooper said he wants to bring it to the national average, which in 2015-16 was an estimated $58,064, according to the NEA. Berger has said he wants to bring it to $55,000 within two years, and Moore hasn’t cited a specific figure.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran