An electronic update emailed by N.C. Sen. Jeff Tarte's office Monday contained startling news: "The Senate, House and Governor have all put forward plans to address teacher pay. The conference committee negotiating differences in the plans has agreed upon 8% pay raises."
Reporters in Charlotte and Raleigh weren't the only ones caught by surprise.
"That is news to me," said Sen. Tommy Tucker, R-Waxhaw. Unlike Tarte, a Cornelius Republican, Tucker is a member of the conference committee trying to reconcile the Senate and House budgets.
The Senate, House and governor's budgets all call for significant teacher raises, though none proposes a flat percentage. The conference committee is still working through plans to revamp the pay scale. Major differences remain on how to award and pay for raises.
Senate leader Phil Berger's office said the same thing: "We are not aware of any budget deal on teacher pay."
So what inspired Tarte, a first-term senator who serves on the Senate education committee, to announce an agreement? "That's just the scuttlebutt in the hallways," he said, adding that indications are that 5 percent to 8 percent will be "the baseline to start from." The raise item, tucked in the middle of his legislative update, "got everybody reading anyway," he said.
Meanwhile, Garinger High School teacher James Ford, who is North Carolina's teacher of the year, plans a trip to Raleigh today to distribute a letter to lawmakers and the governor urging them to find a compromise on teacher raises.
|Ford (CMS image)|