Saturday, November 26, 2011

NC pay freeze hits outside hires, too

Reader Maggie Dunne has been urging me to look into a question that's likely on the mind of many teachers and people who care about them.  She wonders if the state's pay freeze puts N.C. teachers at a disadvantage compared with people hired from outside the state:  "I have been told by friends who are teachers that if someone with 4 years’ experience is a new hire from out of state this year, they are being paid for their experience.  So then you have 2 teachers with the same training and the same experience and in the same field getting entirely different pay."

Not true,  says the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools human resources staff.

The state pay scale is based on experience and credentials.  During good times,  teachers generally get a raise for adding a year of experience.  But starting in 2009-10,  legislators said there wasn't enough money for those raises.

The concern Dunne raises assumes that a N.C. teacher who had five years of experience in 2008-09 remains classified as a five-year teacher,  even though he or she now has eight years' experience,  while an outsider with the same experience hired this year would be classified as an eight-year teacher.  But CMS says both would be classified as eight-year teachers  --  at a scale that has been adjusted downward so that pay level now matches what five-year teachers were making before the freeze.

"The state legislature votes on the teacher tables every year as part of the NC budget.  Since they have voted to give a year’s experience but have frozen salaries they have in effect adjusted down the pay scales,"  wrote Pat Rocca,  a CMS compensation specialist.

The good news for teachers,  then,  is that those who stay put aren't being paid less than new arrivals.  The bad news is that their pay is unlikely to jump dramatically when the economy recovers.  Instead,  it's a good  bet that lawmakers will start nudging the current scale up in small increments when money is available.

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