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News State / Region North Carolina ranks dead last in teacher salary growth

click image above to zoomAfter approving the 2013-14 school year budget resolution that sits hghghgh less than last school year and does not include any sort of pay raise for teachers and approving 14 different fund raisers to generate money for this from field trips to school uniforms, the Macon County Board of Education were given daunting news regarding teacher salaries in the state.

While North Carolina has been identified as 46th in the state for overall teacher pay, Angie Cook informed the board Monday night that based on research published in December 2012 from the National Education Association (NEA), North Carolina sits dead last in teacher salary growth.

According to the data from the NEA, from the 2001-02 to the 2011-12 school years, the national average of teachers’ salaries decreased 2.8 percent. Despite the decline in the national average for teacher pay, the cost of living across the nation continues to rise, making it harder for teachers to make ends meet.

Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin noted that the information presented by Cook was a prime example of why the county has difficulty recruiting and retaining quality teachers. “Teachers are leaving North Carolina because of teaching pay and people certainly are deciding not to relocate here because they can make more money anywhere else in the country,” said Baldwin.

Baldwin explained that with North Carolina's grim outlook on teacher pay,  the two percent supplement provided by Macon County commissioners is more important than ever. Earlier this year, due to budget constraints, the school board asked that the two percent supplement historically provided to Macon County teachers each year, be earmarked to instead be used elsewhere in the budget if needed. Commissioners approved the measure in anticipation of budget cuts on the state level.

Baldwin noted the supplement should be reserved and not used in any other capacity except for teachers if at all possible. “This shows how important that supplement is for our teachers here in Macon County,” said Dr. Baldwin.

The NEA data showed that North Carolina demonstrates a -15.7 percent fall in teaching salary growth over the decade; North Carolina ranks 51. At the top of the chart sits Wyoming who in the last decade has shown an 18.4 percent gain in salary growth.

Although North Carolina's neighboring states hardly fare any better, Tennessee ranks 39th at -4.2 percent, Georgia is 43rd at -5.9 percent, South Carolina is 45th with -6.9 percent and Florida at 46th with -7.3 percent.

Cook informed the board that right now in North Carolina, entry level teachers with a Bachelors degree are paid the same amount from their first year and do not receive a pay bump until after their sixth year, and then the pay raise is $420 a year.

The United States Department of Education places the 2010-11 national average teaching salary at $56,069, a three percent increase from 1990-91. The Center for Public Education places North Carolina's average teachers salary at $45,947, more than $10,000 less than the national average. Macon County's average sits even lower at $40,395, according to Cook.

Board of Education Chairman Jim Breedlove informed the board the he requested this information from Cook in order to demonstrate the state of teacher retention based on salary in the state and in Macon County.

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