Will $21.5 billion state budget leave veteran teachers behind?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Principals, students and an advocacy group are concerned about Governor Pat McCrory's $21.5 billion budget. The budget includes $12 billion for K12 education. That includes a $2,000 raise for first year teachers but doesn't include significant raises for veteran teachers.

"Take care of these people who have devoted their lives to our children," Myers Park High School Principal Mark Bosco said.

Bosco told WBTV that Myers Park has about 55 percent veteran teachers, but he says that number is shrinking.

"I have a teacher right now," Bosco said, "Who is an absolute asset to us. He teaches chemistry. He can't make ends meet, so he is going to Grad School UNC Charlotte to try to become an engineer."

Advocacy group Progress North Carolina Action is concerned veteran teachers will get another .29% raise in their paychecks this year. The group thinks that sends a bad message.

"These are some of our most experienced teachers," Progress NC Action Communications Director Logan Smith said. "They deserve to finally come back from the recession and years of being told 'no, sorry. We can't pay you. You just wait until next year.'"

Smith thinks money should be given to fund veteran teacher raises before it's too late and the seasoned teachers will leave the profession and district.

"They are ruining North Carolina's legacy," Smith said. "Of being one of the best states in the country to educate your kids."

The Governor is allotting $15 million in his budget for school districts to use to reward effective teachers. In the meantime the Governor's office is responding to Progress NC Action's claims of the $21.5 billion budget leaving veteran teachers behind.

"Instead of recognizing the more than half a billion dollars in new education money, this fringe left wing group shows that once again, their primary focus is on making baseless attacks," Ryan Tronovitch, Deputy Communications Director said. "The governor's budget builds on our hard-earned successes and ensures our next generation is prepared for the careers of today and tomorrow through innovative education and training."

Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district is also responding to the Governor's budget.

"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is pleased that the governor's proposed budget - works to help strengthen education in North Carolina. We believe that this is progress in a commitment to our teachers and staff. It supports teaching and learning and most importantly, the students we serve. As conversations continue around funding and education, we look forward to continued discussions that positively impact our schools and community."

Bosco believes before the final budget is approved, politicians should think about how their decision will make teachers feel.

"It's not just about a line item," Bosco said. "It's about the value the teacher feels when they are standing in front of their kids. Am I valued as a member of this community. Let's face it - money talks."

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