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Teachers and concerned citizens gathered at town square in Franklin on Wednesday and joined other groups across the state in what was described by NCAE president John deVille as a rally for public education.

While most rallies were deemed a “silent protest,” deVille decided to break from that mold and invite N.C. senator candidate and former educator Jane Hipps as a guest speaker.

Hipps, a Democrat, spoke in opposition to recent policies and budgets passed by the current session of the General Assembly concerning public education in the state.

Photo by Travis Tallent

A month after the fiscal year ended, North Carolina’s General Assembly was able to come to an agreement on a more than $21 billion spending plan for the state, which Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law last Thursday morning.

While many of the headlines focused on the impact the new budget will have on education, the state’s structure involving Medicaid also was a point of contention for lawmakers. Raleigh officials stumbled on how to effectively reign in Medicaid spending, as well as ensure that all citizens receive the care and coverage that they need.

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This year’s state budget, which was signed into law Thursday, Aug. 7, provides substantial raises for every one of North Carolina’s more than 100,000 public school teachers.

The state sets the base pay for our teachers, and this has an included extra amount paid out each year (after 10 years of teaching) called “longevity pay.” The new raises included in the budget is on top of that extra amount, and under the proposed budget plan, the process is reformed and simplified by folding the extra longevity pay back into the new base pay. By rolling longevity pay into base pay, it gives the public a more honest accounting of what our teachers receive from the state.

The chart at right shows the raises from the state that each teacher will receive next year (in green) over what they currently receive (in blue), based on how many years they have taught school. The new average base salary (including longevity pay and the new pay raises) is $49,117 — now the fourth highest in the southeast. (When you divide $49,117 by the total number of weeks spent working (44), you get an average new weekly wage of $1,116. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage across North Carolina was just $673 in 2012. In most counties, it is significantly lower.)

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On Wednesday, August 20, 2014 the League of Women Voters of Macon County will sponsor a forum: Public Education in North Carolina--Reform or Decline?

A panel of local award-winning educators will discuss budget cuts and how they are affecting our local schools, educational standards, class size, teacher presence, and our childrens’ needs.

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Tuesday, Dec. 30 issue

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