The above was a graphic proudly shown on the Sen. Phil Berger-enabled propaganda website www.ncteacherraise.com a couple of years ago. The link to that site no longer works. The domain is now available for purchase.
There were a lot of “spun” numbers and claims on that website which were easily debunked with more context and clarity.
But that value amount for the average teacher salary as it stood actually was “correct,” but it included all of the advanced degree pay still given to veteran teachers that has been taken away from newer teachers. And do not forget that the average pay will decrease over time as the highest salary a new teacher could make in the newest budget is a little over 50k.
That average salary also is counting another another financial factor that people like Berger want to get credit for but do not deserve known as the “local supplement.”
Some may be wondering, “What the hell is that?” Well, a local supplement is an additional amount of money that a local district may apply on top the state’s salary to help attract teachers to come and stay in a particular district. While people may be fixated on actual state salary schedule, a local supplement has more of a direct effect on the way a district can attract and retain teachers, especially in this legislative climate.
What gets twisted here is that in creating local supplements for teachers many mitigating factors come into light and when North Carolina began bragging about the new average salary it was telling you that Raleigh was placing more of a burden on local districts to create a positive spin on GOP policies.
The past few budgets that were actually passed cut monies to the Department of Public Instruction, therefore limiting DPI’s abilities to disperse ample amounts of money to local county and city districts for various initiatives like professional development and support. When local central offices have less money to work with, they then have to prioritize their needs to match their financial resources. That means some school systems cannot offer a local supplement to teachers because they are scrambling to fulfill other needs that a fully funded state public school system would already offer.
(PLEASE DO NOT FORGET THAT NC IS STILL OPERATING ON A BUDGET MADE ALMOST THREE YEARS AGO.)
And it is not just about whether to have a couple of program managers for the district. It’s about whether to allow class sizes to be bigger so that more reading specialists can be put into third grade classes, or more teacher assistants to help special needs kids like mine succeed in lower grades. Or even physical resources like software and desks.
What the current GOP-led NCGA did was to create a situation where local districts had to pick up more of the tab to fund everyday public school functions.
What adds to this is that this governing body is siphoning more and more tax money to entities like charter schools, Opportunity Grants, an ISD district (STILL), and other privatizing efforts.
Look at the interactive table of 2020-2021 local supplements offered by each LEA for which a portion is shown.
You can find a lot of info here.
Charlotte-Meck and Wake County offer local teacher supplements of over $8,000. The state average is right under $5,000.
Over 100 LEA’s have a local supplement under that state average.
There are a few districts that cannot afford a teacher supplement or one for administrators.
These differences can add up.
For a younger teacher, that can swing a decision. And we in WSFCS get a lot of teacher candidates. Look at the teacher preparation programs that surround us – Wake Forest, Winston-Salem State, Salem College, App State, and UNCG just to name a few that actually place student teachers in my school.
Simply put, local supplements are a big deal and complicated. It gets more complicated when the state starts placing more financial burdens on LEA’s to fulfill state mandates.
For a veteran teacher like myself, a competitive local supplement could mean that I feel valued by the very system that still lacks enough teachers to start the school year fully staffed. For a new teacher, it could be the difference to taking talents, energy, and drive to a particular school system and becoming a part of the community.
So, what can a district’s community do to help teachers come and stay in a particular district?
- They can look at local supplements as a way of investing rather than being taxed.
- They can go and vote for candidates on the state level who support public education.
- They can go and vote for county commissioners who are committed to helping fully fund public schools.
- And they can go and investigate how all of the financing of schools works. It is not as black and white as some may believe it is. Rather it is very much interconnected.
- THEY CAN MAKE SURE TO HAVE LOCAL OFFICIALS PRESSURE THE STATE TO FULLY FUND STATE MANDATES AND NOT PUT THE BURDEN ON LEA’s/
The current culture in our state has not been very kind to public school teachers. Competitive local supplements could go a long way in showing value in public schools.
Because the state will certainly use them to pad their numbers on how well teachers are being paid.