Back-to-school: Five local education issues you should know about

by Ailen Arreaza

I know it’s hard to believe, but the first day of school is less than a week away. Where did the summer go? While we were enjoying the sunshine, our state and district went through some pretty big changes on the education front.

We know you are probably busy driving from store to store in search of composition books and putting your kids back on something that resembles a schedule, so we’ve made it really easy for you to catch up on local education news before the first day of classes. Here are five important issues you should know about:

1. NC teachers are finally getting a raise: After years of stagnant pay, all NC teachers will see an increase in their paychecks this year. Governor Pat McCrory has been touting it as an average 7 percent increase — but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Teachers who have been in the classroom between five and ten years will see the biggest gains: up to 18 percent. Veteran teachers, however, will see the smallest increase — for some it will be less than three percent. With this additional funding for teachers, NC’s national teacher pay standing has gone from 46th to 32nd. At least we’re moving in the right direction.

2. There’s a budget gap for teacher assistant positions: While CMS will be able to use local funds this year to cover all of its TA positions, a bill was struck down in the state legislature that would have given districts more flexibility to pay for teacher assistants. Some NC classrooms may have to make do without a TA this year.

3. Parents of students with severe allergies can breathe a little easier: CMS will have EpiPens and a full time nurse in every school this year.

4. Common Core is no more: Governor Pat McCrory signed legislation this summer authorizing the state Board of Education to rewrite the Common Core standards. An 11 member advisory committee will be formed to make the recommendations. Things will remain as they are for the 2014-2015 school year, but after that — it’s all up in the air.

5. Voters will decide whether or not to give local teachers a raise in November: While it’s great news that all NC teachers got a raise this year, 32nd in the nation is still well below the national average. In November, Mecklenburg voters will decide on a quarter-cent sales tax referendum that would give county teachers an additional pay bump. The question is, are you willing to support our teachers with an increase in local taxes?

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