SNEADS FERRY – Teacher pay and investment in school construction were topics of discussion during Gov. Roy Cooper’s visit to Dixon Elementary School Monday afternoon.
Cooper held a short roundtable discussion with teachers and administrators, stopped by the classroom of former North Carolina Teacher of the Year Lisa Godwin, and took a look at the new cafeteria that replaced the one damaged during Hurricane Florence.
“We came to talk about the importance of investing in our public schools, particularly with teacher salaries and school construction,” Cooper said as he answered questions at the end of his visit. “The needs in Onslow County are great for school construction and we need to make sure the state can help with that. We also need to make sure teachers get a significant pay raise this time. We have to attract and retain the teachers and right now in the General Assembly we are trying to negotiate a budget that gives teachers more money.”
Cooper said he has proposed a 8.5 percent teacher raise over two years. He said the Republican budget included a 3.8 percent raise that will not keep North Carolina competitive with other states.
Cooper held a closed roundtable discussion with a group of teachers and staff that focused on teacher pay. After, he said investment in teachers also includes compensation for many of things they have to take on themselves. Cooper said teachers shouldn’t have to pay for having a substitute and those teachers who get a master’s degree should get compensation for doing so.
“It is time that we invest in our schools, invest in our teachers,” Cooper said.
Cooper said he continues to support the idea of a statewide school bond referendum to raise funding for school construction. His budget proposal includes a bond package that would include $2 billion for K-12 schools statewide.
“There are legislators who want a pay-as-you-go plan. The problem with that is you don’t take advantage of the low interest rates we have now and it is not clear what counties can expect so they can plan for it,” Cooper said.
After meeting with teachers, Cooper stopped in Godwin’s kindergarten class, where he posed for a class photo and explained to the students that their teacher also helps him in Raleigh on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Council.
“She’s the smart one,” he said, which gained cheers from the class.
Before heading out, Cooper greeted students as they boarded their school buses to head home for the day.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.