The Tar Heel State’s budget for the new biennium includes $100 million in supplemental pay for public school teachers in some of the state’s smallest, poorest counties.
The supplemental pay is valued at up to $4,250 per teacher but the exact value differs significantly across counties. The state’s larger, wealthier counties — including Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford, and Durham — are excluded from the funds, but 95 of the state’s 100 counties will receive some level of funding.
“These additional funds will provide rural counties with a new and much-needed tool to help attract and retain high-quality educators in underserved areas,” said Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, R-Wilkes, in a statement.
The provision is meant to bring smaller counties into greater parity with more populous ones in terms of supplemental pay. For example, counties such as Wake ($8,873), Mecklenburg ($8,773), and Guilford ($4,927) include generous supplements already from local funds. But counties such as Alleghany ($500), Ashe ($600), and Clay ($24) do not.
Under the new budget, supplemental pay in those counties will increase to $3,346 for Alleghany, $1,672 for Ashe, and $2,871 for Clay when factoring in the new state funds.
“While many of these districts have solid records of retaining teachers, recruitment can still be a challenge. These funds will go a long way to ensuring that our rural districts are competitive with their larger counterparts,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, director of the Center for Effective Education at the John Locke Foundation.
The new funding is recurring, meaning that it will remain in the budget for the foreseeable future to help counties with planning.
According to Senate leader Phil Berger’s press office, 65% of the allocation formula is based on the county’s tax base, 25% on the median household income, and 10% on the effective tax rate.
Sen. Dan Blue, D-Wake, claimed during budget debate on the Senate floor that Republicans purposefully excluded Democrat-controlled counties.
“If a Democratic majority had enacted such a measure, they’d be hailed as champions of educational equity,” said Stoops. “Unfortunately, the legacy media has little interest in celebrating a Republican-led General Assembly that consistently supports our most vulnerable children in rural and low-income communities.”