Cut to Master Degree Supplemental Pay Will Affect More Teachers

The North Carolina General Assembly just recently passed a bill that cut the supplemental pay for teachers who have obtained their master's degree. The results will begin with the 2014 - 2015 school year. Teacher's who are currently holding master's degree will be grandfathered in to the program. Some of the lawmakers were assuming that if a teacher was able to complete their master's degree in the following spring, they would still be covered under the old law and would be able to receive the pay boost that is awarded to current master's degree holders. This would be a boost of 10 to 15 percent of a pay increase. However, most teachers who graduate next spring will not receive the pay increase at all.

Based on information from the Fiscal Research Division of the state legislature, members of the State Board of Education have decided that the cut off for those who will receive a master's degree pay supplement will be on April 1st of next year. Representative Rick Glazier said that he had been informed that if a teacher had completed their program and was on the payroll by June 30th, the teacher would be paid on the master's degree salary schedule in the future. However, very few graduate programs are able to wrap up and hold graduations before May or June.

Casey Wilkinson, the Chief of Staff for the NC House Democrats said that this is a policy that could be changed. House Democrats are now calling for State Superintendent June Atkinson to ask that the State Board of Education will 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. 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 is quoted as saying in a press release.

One teacher shared that she is in the middle of her master's degree program. She emailed her advisor to try to find out if she could speed up her graduation in order to meet up with the deadline that may determine how much she will be paid. "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," she said. Ultimately, it will take some time before there is a decision of whether or not the deadline will be changed in the future.