Remember that teachers no longer receive longevity pay like other state employees. Remember that bonuses are not salary increases. They are usually one-time payments. Also remember that bonuses get taxed and that none of it can go toward retirement.
Senate Bill 818, which was revised as late as June, includes a one-time bonus of $350 for teachers due in October.
Another thing to recall is that our budget is a two-year biennial budget. That means if this is passed, what teachers really will be getting is a $350 bonus for two-years of service at $175 dollars a school year over two school years. That’s a bonus of $17.50 a month for the contracted time which for teachers is 10 months a year. That is unless there is a another provision put into a future session to give another.
No doubt that many in the NCGA running for reelection will proudly talk of this bonus as a way of respecting teachers in a time of economic crisis and even compare it to what happened during the Great Recession in 2008 – 2010.
But there are two distinct things that you need to know about those bonuses that actually show the deflated reality of this “reward” to teachers.
First is that there is still no budget passed. After the governor vetoed the last budget in 2019 before the pandemic, the NCGA GOP leadership waged a long, surreptitious, drawn out plan to try and override the veto. They kept the NCGA in session for about an extra four months.
Secondly, the money was already there. It didn’t come from out of the blue. They just took the bonuses they had in place for teachers who taught certain subjects (AP, IB, and Cambridge) with national tests and reallocated it in the form of bonuses for each teacher.
It isn’t the point of this post to debate whether these bonuses are justified for all teachers or that they should be available to certain teachers in non-pandemic times. The point is that the money still existed and that the monetary “reward” for each teacher who receives it is not much at all.
But many lawmakers will brag about it even though the money was already there from the previous budget that NC is running on because those same lawmakers didn’t have the guts to call a vote to override a veto made a year ago.
Think about it – the entire bonus that is to be given to teachers for a two-year period is roughly enough to buy 2 Chic-Fil-A #1 combo meals.
(Oh, and AP tests were still administered.)