Teacher bonus bill penned by Republicans clears N.C. Senate

Published 7:07 am Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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North Carolina public school teachers would get $350 bonuses and potentially more one-time income in a Republican measure approved by the state Senate on Monday evening.

The proposal, which also includes the same bonuses for instructional support personnel, goes beyond the usual experience-based raises these categories of educators also would receive.

The measure, which goes to the House following a largely party-line vote, also encourages Gov. Roy Cooper to use federal COVID-19 relief funds earmarked for education to give additional $600 bonuses to these educators and other noninstructional school employees like custodians and cafeteria workers.

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Cooper’s office has said he’s not allowed to use the money that way, citing federal guidance. But Watauga County Republican Sen. Deanna Ballard disagreed, saying it could be used for compensation for five instructional days added to next school year’s calendar related to the coronavirus.

The bill passed 33-16 after Senate Democrats tried to offer an amendment that would have located money to give guaranteed one-time bonuses of $1,250 to teachers and instructional support and $1,000 bonuses to noninstructional school employees. Republicans used a parliamentary maneuver to block the amendment.

The amendment from Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue of Wake County would have been paid from a reserve designed to prepare the state Medicaid program for its anticipated shift to managed care.

Blue said legislators needed to give educators larger bonuses to show how much the state appreciated their work as districts shifted to virtual learning this spring as the pandemic spread.

Floor debate devolved into a rehashing of the teacher pay fight in last year’s state budget stalemate. It ended with public school teachers receiving no raise save for the experienced-based increases.

Expectations for teacher compensation have been tempered with the virus-related economic downturn. The state now expects to receive $4 billion less in projected revenues by June 2021.



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