Experienced teachers in North Carolina are understandably worried about being left out of the push to increase salaries.
Veteran teachers note that they, too, have been hit by five years of pay freezes and rising costs.
Once teachers hit 10 years of N.C. service, they do get one boost that I hadn't known about until recently: State longevity pay. Starting at 10 years, state employees get an annual payment of 1.5 percent of their base salary. That rises to 2.25 percent at 15 years, 3.25 percent at 20 and 4.5 percent at 25 years, according to a presentation to the state's teacher compensation task force.
For a teacher with 10 years experience who is making the state minimum of $35,800, the 1.5 percent payment would bring $537. For a teacher at the top of the CMS pay scale -- 36 years' experience, being paid for a master's degree and National Board Certification and getting the Mecklenburg supplement -- 4.5 percent of $77,697 comes to almost $3,500.
Both state and county money go toward these payments. For instance, a teacher making $40,000 in state base pay and a $5,000 county supplement would get the appropriate percentage of $45,000, says Lanier McRee of the state's fiscal research division: "The State funds the portion of longevity due on the $40,000 and the locals pay the portion earned on the $5,000."
This is nothing new, and it applies to all state employees, not just teachers. It's just a perk that those of us in the private sector tend not to be familiar with. And it's a reminder that with teacher compensation, as with so much in education, nothing is simple.
And if you want to hear more about what the coming weeks might bring for teachers, come hear the discussion at the Observer/PNC Bank forum May 5, titled "Teaching in North Carolina: Low pay, high stakes." Click here to reserve a seat and suggest questions for the panel.