Governor Cooper visits JT Barber Elementary, talks teacher salary, budget stalemate

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This is the governor’s third time visiting J.T. Barber Elementary School in New Bern since Hurricane Florence hit.

The governor sat down with a panel of teachers to talk about how the school has changed since the storm.

“They went to a year-round school system so they could handle the kids better…and so they wouldn’t get so far behind on their work,” said Roy Cooper, Governor of North Carolina.

The new year-round system has come with its challenges for teachers and students.

Many teachers talked about how the schedule gets rid of the long summer break, meaning they aren’t able to get a second job.

The main topic of conversation was teacher salaries.

“The General Assembly just passed a 5% raise over two years for state employees.  You mean we’re going to pay our teachers less than our other employees? That’s wrong, we need to do better than that,” said Cooper.

Cooper talked about re-instituting master’s pay, which school administrators agreed would make it easier to attract and keep teachers.

This conversation is happening as legislators battle it out over the state budget, going back and forth over salary raises for teachers as well as healthcare.

“They are shortchanging teachers and stiff-arming health care. They have not moved one inch from the budget that they passed two months ago. The money is there.  It’s just a question of whether or not we’re going to invest in our teachers and public schools,” said Cooper.

Cooper also spoke about restoring the public school bond.

The last time North Carolina had a public school bond was 1996.

The governor said he believes it could bring over $18 million to Craven County Schools alone.

“We’re going to keep pushing, keep fighting and making sure that we do right by public schools in North Carolina and health care,” said Cooper.

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