Is this the year NC teachers get a raise? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Is this the year NC teachers get a raise?

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North Carolina Teachers have gone five years without receiving a substantial pay raise from the state.

"We have been patient for too long," Classroom Teachers Association President Judy Kidd said. "We've had more expectations placed upon us and demand for so much of our time."

Kidd believes if a raise doesn't happen this year, many teachers could leave the state or the profession.

"If they want to keep the teachers in the classroom," Kidd said. "They need to pay them what they deserve."

Kidd says some teachers struggle to make ends meet.

"Most families can't make it on a teacher salary," Kidd said. "We are supposed to be professionals in a professional community, and we are not being paid a professional wage."

Many believe this could be the year for a teacher pay raise.  Governor Pat McCrory's office released this statement about his efforts for pay raises. "The governor is focused on solutions to reward our hardworking and valuable teachers across the state and that will continue to be a priority this year. We aren't going to give out specifics at this point."

Representative Craig Horn says he has seen preliminary numbers for next year's budget.

"Based on the information that is presently available to me," Horn said. "The money coming - the projections on the money coming in the budget as it stands, I believe this is the year where we'll see a teacher pay raise." 

WBTV asked Horn how much of a raise could teachers expect.

"I don't think it will be a one or two percent," Horn said. "I think it will be closer to three. I'd like to see it more like five, but that would be promising something I cannot deliver.  I think you can depend on something around that three percent rate."

Horn says he is a realist and says paying for $5,000 raise for the state's roughly 94,000 teachers would cost the state nearly a half billion dollars.  That amount scares him.

"Do you have enough confidence in this economy to commit a half a billion dollars in new money," the politician said. "To any program and promise. I don't have quite that confidence that we can do that right now."

Kidd believes the state has no other choice but to find the money for raises.

"Stop shorting educational professionals in the name of we just don't have the money," Kidd said. "They need to do what they can do, and they need to do it relatively fast or they are not going to have anybody to increase the pay to or at least they are not going to be the ones they want."

North Carolina is now ranked about 48th in the country when it comes to teacher pay.  This is an election year and some think politicians will talk about granting a teacher raise in order to get elected.

"It's not an election trick," Horn said. "It's not a gimmick. It's not politics. There is not one person I talked to that doesn't believe we need, we should and that we will do this. I'm not going to tell you it's a slam dunk."

Kidd says her group will pressure the legislature about granting generous raises while Horn is keeping his fingers crossed there will be enough.

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