Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — The State of North Carolina budget (HB 259) became law Tuesday without Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature. The budget includes more than $600 million in additional spending for public education, totaling almost $13.5 billion for North Carolina’s K-12 public school system.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said she was disappointed that the N.C. General Assembly did not provide more funding for teacher raises. Teachers will receive an average raise of 7 percent over two years, but veteran teachers will receive raises of just 3.6 percent.

“As a former educator, I’ve been vocal that North Carolina’s teachers deserve a raise, and I’m disappointed that we did not see the double digit pay increase for educators that we hoped for in this Conference budget. Salaries in other professions have kept pace with inflation; however, that is not the case with education.

“While salary is a key component to addressing the teaching pipeline challenges in our state, I’m optimistic that the legislature’s first-ever direct investment of almost $13 million into the advanced teaching roles initiative will strengthen our pipeline by extending the reach of excellent classroom teachers while laying the foundation for higher pay and better supports for teachers, which will produce better student outcomes. In addition, the General Assembly earmarked millions of dollars for school support staff, such as nurses, school psychologists and social workers to address student health and mental health concerns, as well as the autonomy for districts to decide how to use the funding to best benefit their students and schools.”

The superintendent also highlighted the $70 million earmarked for the Center for Safer Schools for safety grants and for recurring funding to continue the Say Something Anonymous reporting app as a free resource to schools and students.

“Creating a budget is never a straightforward process, and we are thankful for the certainty that comes with finally having a budget in hand,” Truitt said. “However, there are still a number of legislative priorities for North Carolina’s public schools that were not addressed in the Conference budget, so I’m looking forward to the short session where we can continue to change the way we hold schools accountable and how we compensate teachers.”

 K-12 Education Highlights

The budget also includes:

♦ More than $250 million for school construction costs;
♦ $2 million for Career Technical Education;
♦ Millions more investment into early literacy efforts;
♦ $30 million for Teacher Supplement Assistance;
♦ Funding for “TA to Teachers” is available for the first time to the entire state; and
♦ The State will fully cover the cost of the Reduced Priced Meal co-pays for families who qualify