Editorial: Paying teachers a county job?

May 23, 2014 

Teachers and school system leaders are surely dissapointed that Wake County Manager Jim Hartmann’s budget didn’t include extra money for teacher pay, but we question whether that’s a county’s role in the first place.

Wake County already sets aside funds for a local supplement which amounts to thousands of dollars per teacher each year. That’s money that’s not available at such levels in most counties in North Carolina.

The fact is, though school systems are divided largely on a county-by-county basis, they are still a function of the state, not the counties. That makes it dangerous for county officials who want to intercede on behalf of teachers who often make up a share of the local tax base as well.

Hartmann likely would have opened a Pandora’s Box had he created a budget proposal that would add even more money to teacher’s pay.

Not only would other ancillary organizations seek their own additional funding, but Hartmann would have found himself cutting some legitimate county service in order to free up the funds to give teachers more. Or he would have been forced to raise taxes even more than he already does. His budget proposal calls for a 4.4-cent tax hike on every property owner in Wake County. That’s pretty steep

School leaders should more rightly look to their state legislators to open their pocketbooks if teachers are to get a reasonable raise this year. Teachers and school advocates can use this short session to help publicize legislators’ spending priorities.

If teachers and education are a top priority for lawmakers, the money teachers want will start to come in. If legislators, as seems likely, have no interest in improving the lot of teachers, their inaction will speak volumes. And those are volumes teachers and their advocates can take to the polls this fall or in subsequent elections.

If the general public is truly as frustrated as teachers are, the ballot box seems the most likely place to change the current state of affairs.

The state is where the money is, And that’s where it should come from.

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