Thursday, June 5, 2014

Senate budget: Teacher cuts, raises and lottery

Superintendent Heath Morrison says the Senate budget would cost Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools 77 teachers.  Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger says there are no teacher cuts, other than those based on declining enrollment.

So what's up?

Turns out the teachers in question were promised in the two-year budget approved last summer,  and would be taken away if the General Assembly approves the Senate's budget bill for 2014-15.  The 2013-15 plan would have added about 788 second- and third-grade teachers statewide.

The uncertainty about whether to count on those teachers makes it tough for CMS to plan,  says Chief Financial Officer Sheila Shirley,  but it doesn't mean existing teachers are being cut.

The  "give one year and take the next"  approach may be one reason many teachers are wary of the Senate's pay plan,  even though it promises hefty raises.

The professional track outlined in the budget bill  (starting on p. 39)  spells out a significantly higher pay scale for teachers who relinquish state longevity pay and tenure  --  and it says that the new scale  "shall apply for the 2014-15 fiscal year."  I've heard speculation that once teachers have given up tenure,  the General Assembly could go back to freezing pay rather than letting teachers advance as promised.

I've also heard from a veteran teacher who's savvy about civic affairs that the raises promised to long-time teachers won't be enough to offset the loss of longevity pay,  which can hit almost $3,500 a year for teachers at the top of the CMS scale.  But the budget says,  and Berger's office confirms,  that the bill allows teachers to claim their current salary plus longevity pay if that's higher than the amount on the new scale.  If that tops $50,000,  the cap on the new scale,  they'll also get a 1 percent bonus.

Teachers who opt to stay on the tenure track would keep their current salary and longevity pay.  In other words,  no cut but no raise.

Another perennial hot button in budget discussions is money from the N.C. Education Lottery.  I noticed that the Senate bill (p. 9)  includes a 2014-15 allocation of lottery money that's more than $37 million higher than what was projected in the two-year plan.  It also shifts some of that money from a financial aid reserve to classroom teachers,  bumping the teacher allocation from about $221 million to $277 million.


Anonymous said...

I hear a lot from Senate Berger that I don't like. I'd like to hear from Senator Tarte publicly on this issue. Is there anyone that will stand up to this guy and for their constituents?

If the two plans, which I don't like are our only option; I'd go for the Governor's. At least that plan doesn't raise teacher's salaries at the expense of our children's already meager services.

I am also watching our local BOCC.

I was glad the County Manager gave CMS what she did and paid attention to other COUNTY PROVIDED services. I don't want to see the County pick up the tab for what the State should be doing. Once that door is opened, we won't be able to close it go back.

Anonymous said...

This state has gone mad... I like some of the things being done. FRAC away!! Cut taxes. No business, no job's! I think abortion is selfish and evil. I can't understand why reasonably intelligent people can't make a pay plan. I like my kids school. I like the teachers and the principal. The teacher I wanted for my kid next year is leaving. Not to New York or California. To South Carolina!!!! South Carolina!!! Are you kidding me? I know some schools are bad. Don't ruin mine because of bad schools in other places.

bobcat99 said...

Teachers deserve raises - big raises. They should also keep their tenure. But longevity pay should be stopped for teachers and ALL state employees. You should not be paid merely for staying around. That is a fairly antiquated system. I used to work for the state and managed to get longevity pay for a few years before I left. I didn't like it then and don't like it now.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line... Teachers have no reason to trust the Senate... They are being devious. They are basically saying if teachers want enough money to live they have to give up the thing that protects them from unfair treatment. There us no reason to tie raises or the jobs of teacher assistants to pay raises in an effort to bully teachers into giving up their due process rights. SMH !

Take back our schools said...

I would love to see a breakdown of how past dole outs of the education lottery fund have worked out. I would bet the grants to low income students have a lower success rate than they are willing to admit. NC needs to stop this item and redirect it to NC students with B or more average to go to NC colleges.

Anonymous said...

What about loss of benefits package ?


Benefits have value ! This loss has cost individual teachers thousands.

Wiley Coyote said...


So you're saying that no teacher in NC has medical, dental or vision care?

Clarify that please.

Anonymous said...

After 30 years of loyal committment to the students of CMS/NC my reward is a "Breach of Contract". I was promised a stepped payment plan that has been frozen a total of 10 years. Thus reducing my pension by 10,000 dollars. I was promised full health insurance. Our deductibles keep increasing and our benefits are decreasing. How can teachers trust a State that breaches their side of the contract while expecting us to do more with less. If there are any lawyers out there ready to take this on....count me as #1 in line.

Anonymous said...

5:46pm You've got it wrong. People (parents and students, as well as teachers) are leaving to go to BETTER schools. Yes, some of them are in our beloved S.Carolina.

Anonymous said...

When I started teaching, the plan was 80/20 with vision and dental. Now it is 70/30 without dental and vision. My family plan cost over 8,000 a year. I hope that helps Wiley. Who knows what Obama care is going to do?

Anonymous said...

The senate plan, looks better then Mcory's and Tillis plan. It will start next year. Who knows how long the other plan will take?