On Sunday night around 10 o’clock, a Henderson County teacher called her state legislator’s Raleigh office expecting to leave a message about funding education on his answering machine. She was surprised when I answered.
That gives one a sense of what our budget process has been like recently — late nights and long days. Last week was spent putting together a budget proposal for my House colleagues, which the House leadership rolled out a short time ago.
Within the hour, each of the various parts of the budget — education, transportation, health and human services, etc. — will be heard in a subcommittee. Then they will be pieced together to form the House budget which will receive an all-day hearing on Wednesday before going to the House floor for votes on Thursday and Friday.
While I can’t tell you much about the entire House budget, I can tell you more than you probably want to know about the education portion of the budget. Since the education budget seems to have the highest profile, here’s the “inside scoop.”
The House budget provides a significant salary increase for classroom teachers which is not tied to giving up “career status” (otherwise known as “tenure”). On average, salaries increase by 5% under the proposed House budget, with salaries for new teachers going to $33,000. Teachers at the top of the salary range will get 2% bonuses. The House budget has $10.2 million for an experienced-based salary increase for school-based administrators (principals and assistant principals) and a $1,000 salary increase for non-certified and central office employees. $35.4 million is added to the budget to fund increased retirement contributions for retirees.
While the Senate budget made a $233 million cut in the allotment for teacher assistants, the House budget fully funds teacher assistants. The allotment for classroom teachers in FY 2014-15 will be same as in FY 2013-14; the same as in the Senate budget
The House budget restores master’s and advanced degree salary supplements if a course towards the degree was completed by July 1, 2013, and going forward for advanced degrees within the educator’s teaching field or area of licensure.
The House budget repeals the phase-out of “career status” for existing teachers, but career status will not be awarded to additional teachers. In a related budget provision, the House proposes to fund the Career Pathways pilot program, allowing certain school districts to create models that will provide differentiated pay for teachers.
Community Colleges & the University System
The Community College system will get a big bump-up in its budget, increasing 2.5% over the original budget for FY 2014-15. The increased budget includes salary and benefit increases and funds a tiered funding model at $15.4 million to include a new, higher funded tier of courses that cost more to deliver and lead to in-demand, higher paying jobs.
Both the Community College system and the UNC system will be receive state funding to draw down federal funds under the federal Yellow Ribbon program to reduce tuition costs for non-resident veterans.
The House budget includes a $48.7 million increase for salaries and benefits for the University system and continues the policy of providing administrators much latitude in how it spends the monies that are allocated.