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Senate | May 28, 2014 | Press Room | Education Insko Press Conference

Full MP3 Audio File

Hey, good morning. Appreciate you all being here and appreciate your attention to the things that are happening in the building, particularly on the Senate side today. We're here to make an announcement about our teacher pay plan that will be incorporated into the Senate budget, which will be coming out late, later today, and we should have it ready for consideration on the floor later this week as well. We hope to have the Senate budget completed and sent over to the house by the end of this month. There's no greater investment we can make than preparing our kids for the future. That's why Senate Republicans have been focused on improving student outcomes since day one. And it's why we're announcing this ground breaking proposal. It's widely agreed inside our schools teachers have the most significant impact on student performance. So to attract and keep the best educators in the classroom, of the Senate budget will contain an average pay increase for our teachers of over 11%. And that will be a permanent pay raise for North Carolina public school teachers beginning July 1, 2014. The cost of this pay plan is approximately $468 million, and it will be the largest pay increase for teachers in state history. And it will boost North Carolina from currently 47th in overall teacher pay to the middle of current rankings. The estimate we have is somewhere around 27. And in the region from 9th to 3rd, propelling us ahead of Virginia, Tennessee, and South Carolina in terms of teacher pay. Our plan will replace the archaic 37 step system that we currently have with an entirely new base pay scale, and provide more than $5,800 average raises for teachers in the first year of implementation alone. And it responds to feedback from educators by repealing the automatic loss of tenure, which was slated to take place in 2018, and instead offering our educators a choice of whether to maintain that status. Under our plan teachers who agree to work on annual contracts for the 2014-15 school year would move to the new pay scale and receive the substantial salary increase. Those who choose to keep tenure would remain on the current pay schedule. There's also an additional $39 million to give pay raises to other public school employees, including matching the governor's proposal to provide principals and other school administrators with average 2% increases, and non-instructional public school employees will receive a $500 flat increase. By ensuring that over 90% of these dollars for public school pay raises go directly to teachers, we are prioritizing those who have the greatest impact on student performance, and providing a major incentive for those teachers to stay in the classroom. For example, under our plan for the first time in state history, our public school teachers will have an opportunity to make more than administrators. Our proposal also fulfills the commitment we made earlier this year to extend supplemental pay for teachers with master's degrees, to those who have completed, completed at least one course in graduate, in a graduate program as of July 1, 2013. And it expands opportunities for local school systems to recognize and reward top performers by allocating funds for up to 35% of teachers to receive pay for excellence increases. Our plan is paid for using recurring revenue sources and it will not require a tax increase. Investing nearly half a billion dollars in pay raises will make North Carolina a regional leader and encourage the best and brightest teachers to make a long term commitment to their profession, our students, and the state of North Carolina. I understand that you have received, or you have copies of some of the materials. In the materials are the provisions, or at least the items that'll be in the money report when the budget is completed. A comparison of folk's pay on the new schedule, the professional schedule, as opposed to the current schedule, a chart showing the difference between the current pay scale and the Senate plan, and a listing of all of the states showing where North Carolina ranks presently and where it would rank after the implementation of the pay plan. There's also some information at the back indicating the current fund balances that our public school systems, the LEA's, have around the state. It's kind of interesting that the total amount of

...reserves that are ? 678 million dollars at present time which is more in reserves than the state of North Carolina had in our state. This is a significant step in the direction of addressing what has been a continuing problem in North Carolina with reference to how we pay our teachers. It is something that as I said, that will help propel North Carolina really forward, particularly in the region in connections with compensation for our professional educators. With that, we will be more than happy to answer any questions that you might have. Mr. O'Connell. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So the teacher who decides to stay on the current plan, there is no pay raise for that teacher? [SPEAKER CHANGES] A teacher who stays on their current plan with retain their tenure if they have it and would receive the pay that would be called for under the current plan. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And in the formulation of your budget here, what percentage of teachers do you estimate will take a pay raise. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have the 468 million dollars assumed that all teachers will take it. There very well may be some teachers that decide not to go to the new plan. In which case, the cost would be less. Hold on. Lynn. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Can you speak specifically to how you're going to pay for it. What will be cut to pay for the raises? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The budget will be coming out later today. The answer to those questions will be in the budget itself. You can speak to Senator Brown, one of our budget chairs, about that once the budget document becomes public. I'm sorry, yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That's the question I had. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I understand you said sit and wait until later but you drew specific attention to the LEAs and I'm wondering to what extent this additional funding comes from their budget. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We are not requiring them to spend any money that don't spend presently. We got a 468 million dollar increase for teachers. An average for teacher of in excess of 11%. An average pay raise of 5,800 dollars fully paid for. [SPEAKER CHANGES] This incorporates and expands beyond the promise made several months ago in Jamestown with the Governor? [SPEAKER CHANGES] And at that time we said that that was the first step and that we hoped to be able to do more. What we've seen is that because of the budgeting discipline act that we've seen since the republicans took over the general assembly in 2011. Because of the improvement in our unemployment rate as a result of decisions that were made to modify the unemployment compensation fund. Because we have prioritized the way we're going to do our spending, we now have the capacity to do something that we've said all along we intend to do and that is make significant changes to how we compensate teachers. Make significant changes in terms of the amount that teachers receive and because of those reforms that we've made over the past 3 years, we now sit in a position to be able to do these things. Mark [SPEAKER CHANGES] Forgive for being skeptical [SPEAKER CHANGES] Oh I've forgiven you for that before. [SPEAKER CHANGES] This is a sizable chunk of money and maybe Senator Brown can give us some idea of how you are all paying for this. Since what we're hearing is that there's some sizable cuts to the MEDICAID program that may not be realistic all the way along. So you're asking us to take this plan on face value when perhaps some of the other things that you need to do to make the reality aren't quite feasible. Could you give us some idea of where the money to pay for this is coming from? [SPEAKER CHANGES] What I would say is the budget will be coming out later today. The details will be there. We are not asking you take anything on face value. This pay increase is in the budget. It will be in the budget. It's fully funded and is funded with recurring dollars. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Have you coordinated at all with the house and Governor's office and what if any feedback have you gotten from that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The Governor's office has been provided with a copy of this in advance of these announcements. The details of this incorporate a lot of the discussions that have taken place, Not just with members of the house. Not just...

With the governor and the governor's staff but also with conversations we've had over the past several years with teachers and with administrators and with schoolboards and you know the whole spectrum of folks who have an interest in education including parents and taxpayers. SPEAKER CHANGES What has been their reaction? Are they supportive? The governor and the house leadership? SPEAKER CHANGES The reaction we've received so far has been positive. I'll let them speak for themselves but we have received positive reaction in reference to this. Again it's the largest pay increase for teachers in State history. ?? SPEAKER CHANGES Is there an effect on class sizes, with this and also with teacher assistance? SPEAKER CHANGES The details will be coming out. There are some modifications but there...again the important thing is that it's fifty eight hundred dollars per teacher, it's over eleven percent pay raise. SPEAKER CHANGES ?? Fewer teachers? SPEAKER CHANGES I think there may be fewer teachers simply because we have fewer students. ?? Remember one of the things is that ADA has gone down, so that the dollars dedicated to ADM are less. SPEAKER CHANGES Teacher's assistants, being part of this where the teacher will have more students...that they'll be dealing with..-- SPEAKER CHANGES I don't think you'll see a significant change as far as that is concerned. Ok let's move around. SPEAKER CHANGES You mentioned that this proposal incorporates a lot of governor's proposal, a lot of the same elements. What would you say are some of the differences among proposals? Why were they important for the Senate to include them. SPEAKER CHANGES I think one of the big differences is this proposal makes the full change to a new pay schedule. Whereas the governor's proposal, if I recall correctly, had that as an aspirational goal. This actually changes from the thirty seven steps to...I think it goes to eighteen steps. So that's...that is a different...The other thing is that this is fully funded, it's a significantly larger increase, than any of the proposals that I've seen so far. SPEAKER CHANGES I'm struggling to understand the Masters. So if you've started your Master's program as of July one a year ago, you will get a raise when you get your Masters. But if you have not started Master's program yet or teacher of the future or get your Bachelors, that will not be there is that correct? SPEAKER CHANGES That's correct. SPEAKER CHANGES As to the rationale why the chart looks like this, why there's a steep increase in the middle and then a plateau? And are you ?? sort of telling teachers who are at twenty years, "You're not going to get anymore money so why not go." SPEAKER CHANGES No the interesting thing, Lynn is that with reference to the chart itself. The...what we wanted to do, we wanted to make sure that for compensated features for value added for the improvements of the that are children have the opportunity to see. And teachers really are fully qualified and are at the top of their profession in many respects before they get to thirty or thirty five years and so what we want to do is to have a scale or a schedule that pays teachers, ramps them up quickly to the top. We also have the additional pay the bonus pay for those teachers that are selected, again we're moving thirty five percent of the teachers on four year contracts. There are...as we continue to move forward with our plans, there will be some other things that we will hopefully be able to do in coming years to provide additional pay. The most frequently talked about would be for those teachers in hard to staff areas, for those teachers that teach in difficult to staff schools, we hope to be able to put something of that nature in the future. But again, what we wanted to do is address a priority and a priority is the basic pay for our teachers and the basic pay, we talked a little bit about it earlier when we made the announcement about the beginning pay is real impediment to our ability to recruit and teach. I'm sorry, recruit and keep teachers in North Carolina. So we pick or significantly address the basic pay scale. And that addresses that problem. We have the capacity to do that and as you can see that's a significant amount of money, about half a million dollars to take care of that. The additional steps will be steps that we'll work on as we continue to go forward into the future. But likely not something we'll be able to do this year. Yes m'aam? SPEAKER CHANGES You said you collaborate with teachers and their advocates. What has been their reaction...

...this, specifically with giving up teacher tenure. [SPEAKER CHANGES] There's been some well documented resistance to the idea of totally eliminating tenure and what we did last year was pass legislation that eliminated tenure in 2018. We are repealing that and we're giving teachers a full choice. If the tenure is important to them, if they feel that that's something that is that important to them, they can keep it. If, however, what they want to do is move to this new pay scale, they have the choice to do that as well. I can't predict what the reaction would be from all teachers but I would point out that I doubt that there's anyone in this room that has tenure in your jobs. Several of you have been working for a couple of years too. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm on a six week contract. [SPEAKER CHANGES] See, he makes our point. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You were looking at me like that. I bargained hard for it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator, on the 25% top teachers in each school district, I won't review what the requirements for that were but what has changed for those people? LEA still need to select the best 25% by the end of this month... [SPEAKER CHANGES] I thought 35. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I beg your pardon. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It was 25 on last years. Yeah. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Twenty-five percent by the end of this month, they get the additional $500 per year for five years. Is there anything else that's changed in that part of your budget from last year? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Of course, that particular provision is currently in litigation and we're awaiting a decision from Judge ??. It's... You all have written about that so you know where we are with that. It would be my understanding that the... First of all, the bill itself, the budget bill itself, will have some specifics that I think address some of the concerns that were raised by LEAs with reference to the selection process for the 25%. We put a little additional language in there to help identify the 25%, which will go to 35%. I think that will help as far as that's concerned. For those teachers who are selected, assuming that we don't see a statewide injunction issued by Judge ??, but for those teachers who are selected, those contracts will be honored with reference to this and those teachers will have voluntary relinquished tenure because that's what the legislation last year called for. They will be eligible for the new pay scale with the additional bump in pay. But again, I think a lot of that is speculative because we don't know for sure what Judge ??'s order is going to say. More information than you needed? Paul? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you have a second year calculation on what it's going to cost the state? This is 14-15. In 15-16, just to move everybody up the ladder one step, have you done that calculation? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We have asked that that be ??. We are assured by fiscal staff that the cost of this on a recurring basis is covered. The answer would be yes. I don't have the specific details but the answer would be yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If I'm a teacher and I choose not to go on the new plan, will I continue to move up on the old plan or will I pretty much... I mean they haven't been moving now. Will you be funding...? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That plan is frozen, has been frozen, and will continue to be frozen. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'll be wherever I am on the current system? [SPEAKER CHANGES] That would be my understanding. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm not going to get small 1% increases or things like that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] My understanding is if you choose to stay on that plan you will be wherever that plan is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Wherever you are? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do you get a raise? You won't get a raise if you choose not to...? [SPEAKER CHANGES] My understanding is there's not a raise if... [SPEAKER CHANGES] You won't get a step even? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No step even, that's correct. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You are where you are? [SPEAKER CHANGES] You are where you are. Other questions? If you'd like for somebody else to answer ??. Okay, thank you.