New cut to master’s degree supplemental pay will affect more teachers than lawmakers previously thought

By: - August 2, 2013 11:59 am

The North Carolina General Assembly just passed a budget bill that axed supplemental pay for teachers who obtain master’s degrees, beginning with the 2014-15 school year. Teachers who currently hold master’s degrees will be grandfathered in.

Some lawmakers were led to believe, however, that if a teacher completed their master’s degree next spring, they would be covered under the old law and receive the pay bump that is currently awarded to master’s degree holders, which for many equates to a 10-15% pay increase.

As it turns out, most teachers who graduate next spring will not receive the pay increase.

According to the Fiscal Research Division of the state legislature, members of the State Board of Education decided that the cut off for who will receive a master’s degree pay supplement will be April 1, 2014.

Rep. Rick Glazier says that he had been told that if a teacher had completed their program and was on the payroll by June 30, then that teacher would be paid on the master’s degree salary schedule going forward.

Few graduate programs wrap up and hold graduations before May or June.

Brian Matteson, who works in the Fiscal Research Division, told Glazier’s intern, Adam Svolto, that the State Board of Education could have pushed the deadline closer to June 30, but April 1 was selected to provide administrative lead time, and, perhaps, to ensure savings would quickly be realized from the provision.

Lynda Fuller, spokesperson for the Department of Public Instruction, explained that the April 1 date is policy that is spelled out in their salary manual, posted online.

Effective Date For Salary Purposes

For salary purposes, ALL degrees above the bachelor’s level that are earned:

–on or after April 1 of the current school year will become effective July 1 of the upcoming school year or

–prior to April 1 of the current school year will become effective in the same pay period as the license effective date

Casey Wilkinson, Chief of Staff for the NC House Democrats, told NC Policy Watch that this is a policy that can certainly be changed.

House Democrats are calling on State Superintendent June Atkinson to request that the State Board of Education extend the deadline to June 30th, 2014.

“It wasn’t enough for the Republican Majority to implement bad policy – they wrote the policy so vaguely that now we face a potential unintended consequence that will pull the rug out from educators a couple of months before they graduate,” said Glazier in a press release.

“All these educators believed when they enrolled that if they worked hard and graduated, our state would reward them with a small raise in exchange for their commitment to their own professional development. North Carolina must keep that promise,” Glazier concluded.

At this week’s final Moral Monday protest, a Wake County teacher told NC Policy Watch she is in the middle of her master’s degree program.

“I just emailed my advisor to see if I could speed up graduation,” she said. “It’s very disappointing. My master’s degree program has given me so much insight into teaching, but now it doesn’t matter anymore. It means nothing more than a bachelor’s degree at this point.”

We’ll keep you posted as we wait for a response from the State Board of Education.

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Lindsay Wagner

Lindsay Wagner, former Education Reporter for N.C. Policy Watch. Wagner now works as a Senior Writer and Researcher at the NC Public School Forum. She has also worked for the American Federation of Teachers in Washington, D.C., as a writer and researcher focusing on higher education issues and for the National Education Association, the U.S. Department of State's Fulbright program and the Brookings Institution and an Education Specialist at the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. [email protected]