Gov. McCrory has signaled that he will sign the budget into law on Friday. This after two votes from the House – one late Thursday night, and one very early Friday morning.
There has been feverish exploration of the budget since its release late on Monday night. But much of the spending plans for education have been clear from the start.
The budget provides funding to raise beginner teacher salary to $35,000 and move all teachers one step on the salary schedule. It also provides a one-time $750 bonus for all teachers.
The step increase is no small measure. The legislature condensed the step schedule from 31 steps to five last year. Where before teachers saw modest increases from year to year, they now see proportionally larger increases every five years.
But step increases aren’t always funded. In fact, during the recession step increases were frozen for several consecutive years. If you had been teaching for thirteen years, this means that you would be paid on that step for several years in a row. When the steps were unfrozen you only moved forward one step, not the multiple steps that you may have missed during that time. There were many teachers who sat on step thirteen or eighteen for multiple years. Last year a step increase was funded and they moved forward to fourteen or nineteen. This year, with funding for a step for two consecutive years, they will finally advance to another step.
The budget provides funding for drivers education at the same level as prior years. This means that counties can resume providing the service to students – including WCPSS.
The funding source will change next year – from the highway fund to fines and forfeitures.
The budget provides funding for teacher assistants at last year’s level. It does remove flexibility that allowed districts to convert funding for teacher assistant positions to funding for teacher positions.
This will impact WCPSS financially. Year-round schools have been open since July and others since August. Teaching positions hired with this converted funding will either have to be collapsed or funded with local money. Local sources note that approximately 80 teacher positions are affected in WCPSS.
Textbooks and Digital Resources
The budget provides an increase in funding for textbooks and digital resources. In 2014-15, the total funding allotted was $23 million. Funding will be $52 million for 2015-16 and $62 million for 2016-17.
For comparison, 2009-10 funding was $111 million.
The budget provides funding for enrollment growth.