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McCrory to Advisory Committee: 'Income to pay teachers is limited'

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The governor's Teacher Advisory Committee meets on SAS Campus to discuss improving student outcomes, compensating teachers and recognizing innovative schools. The governor's Teacher Advisory Committee meets on SAS Campus to discuss improving student outcomes, compensating teachers and recognizing innovative schools.
CARY, N.C. -

Teachers from across the state gathered Tuesday to give Gov. Pat McCrory feedback on how to improve the teaching profession, including pay.

McCrory's 24-member Teacher Advisory Committee is comprised of teachers from traditional public schools, charter schools and the state's online teaching portal. The committee met on SAS Campus to discuss improving student outcomes, compensating teachers and recognizing innovative schools.

In September, McCrory signed an executive order to create the committee to "give a voice to a diverse group of teachers from across the state."

"You are not here for show," McCrory told the panel. "Your input is critical to moving education forward because you are on the frontline every day. Only you can provide classroom-based experience about what works with students and what doesn't."

McCrory used the first meeting of his Teacher Advisory Committee meeting to reiterate his position that the money just isn't there.

"Our income to pay teachers, to pay for buildings, to pay for professor and new computer equipment is limited," McCrory said. "There are financial strains on the state. We are still officially -- in our state -- in a recession."

He added, "People are still hurting, especially in rural areas and small towns."

SAS CEO Jim Goodnight took the opportunity to send a different message to McCrory, pointing our questionable salaries within the administration.

"I hope the legislature and governor will find some money to pay you because some of the salary data is not good," Goodnight told the committee.

Elizabeth Jones, an eighth grade science teacher and department chair at Roland Grise Middle School in New Hanover County, will chair the committee. Jones said in addition to teacher compensation, technology will be high on her list for reform.

"Many of my students use smartphones and I use smartphones as a teaching tool in my class," Jones said. "If classroom technology doesn't become a big push in North Carolina, the digital divide could become as significant as the economic divide."

The governor has given this committee on year to do its work and said he expects it to come up with long-term solutions.

The meeting comes just a day after teacher's across the state staged a "walk-in" in reaction to spending reductions and another year without a pay raise.

Some teachers protested near McCrory's office, just outside the Capitol building.

Liberal activist group Progress NC released a statement saying it is "glad that Gov. McCrory is finally meeting with teachers," but the meeting is coming too late.

"Parents and educators wanted to talk before he signed a budget that cut teacher assistants, textbooks and classroom supplies and failed to give teachers a badly needed pay increase," Executive Director Gerrick Brenner said. "Hopefully, Gov. McCrory will finally listen to educators, but his record suggests that this committee will be little more than a kangaroo court."

McCrory has blamed Medicaid overruns for a state budget this year without pay raises, but wants to find money to do so next year. He has said he also wants a method to reward the best teachers.

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