Gov. Roy Cooper briefly visited Franklinton High School on May 23 for a tour, but he didn’t miss the chance to criticize the Senate budget and to push his own plans.
“Let’s face it, the last few years, the investment in public education has not been sufficient,” Cooper, a Democrat, said. “In this Senate budget that we’ve just seen, they concentrated more on tax breaks for the wealthiest among us and tax cuts for corporations over investments in public education.”
Cooper explained that teacher, assistant principal, and principal salaries need to increase and that schools need to have the flexibility to hire other support staff like nurses and counselors.
The governor recognized that the Republican-controlled Senate has come up with a teacher pay proposal that provides an average 3.7 percent pay raise for teachers in their first year. Teachers in the middle of their career would see raises ranging from 1.7 percent to 8.5 percent. But teachers with more than 25 years’ service would see no change in their salaries.
“I hope that this discussion has been elevated to the point that we are going to get a better budget for education,” Cooper said. “We need to do more.”
The House is now working on its version of the budget.
During the tour, Cooper visited several classes, including a culinary arts class and a forensic science class.
Near the end of the tour, Cooper spoke to a class of seniors working on their final projects. He asked the students about their plans for college and took the moment to warn them about predatory loans, advising them to first research their options.
When he asked if anyone in the class was interested in pursuing a career in education, only two students raised their hands.
“We need more of you to think about doing that,” Cooper said. “We are down in teachers.”