Gov. Cooper pushes for education investment, teacher pay raises during Wilmington visit

Schools in the state have around 5,000 open positions for teachers, and Gov. Roy Cooper says the state needs to make a larger investment in education.
Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:19 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - During a visit to Winter Park Elementary School in Wilmington Thursday, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper pushed for higher investment in education and pay raises for teachers as part of his proposed budget for next year.

North Carolina schools have around 5,000 open positions for teachers. Cooper says higher pay and incentives are necessary not just to fill those spots, but to retain school staff members.

“We can talk about supporting education all we want. My only question for people who say that is ‘show me your budget.’ That’s how you measure your support for something,” Cooper said.

Cooper adds, however, that the investment starts with teachers.

“I’ve made a proposal that would be an average of [an] 18% raise for teachers over the next two years, bolstering starting teacher pay, making sure that we’re letting them know loud and clear that they are a priority,” said Cooper.

Through his new budget, Cooper wants to bring the starting salary for teachers up to $46,000 annually. He hopes this will help to entice new hires while lessening the load for those in the classroom.

“We’ve heard time and time about our teachers being very, very tired because they are very, very hard-working, [I] saw that just yesterday,” said Wildeboer. “So it is very, very important that we do everything we can. We want to train them, give them all the training, but we also need give them some time to do their job.”

Cooper used his visit to the Port City to send a strong message to Raleigh.

“We hope that the legislature will take a good look at this budget and they will understand the importance of making these investments. We’ve set a high bar for them,” said Cooper.

While state lawmakers will review the proposed budget for the state, the New Hanover County school board will hold a budget workshop meeting next week to plan for the next school year.