NCASA, NCPAPA Seek Fix For Principal Pay Issues

NC Legislative Building

NCASA, NCPAPA, and other education groups are asking lawmakers to address language in the 2022 State Budget that could cause steep decreases in principal salaries across the state beginning in 2023. While lawmakers previously provided language holding principal salaries harmless from decreases since 2018-19, such hold harmless language was not included in the 2022 budget package, and no opportunity was provided for amendments to the budget before it was passed by state lawmakers on July 1.

Specifically, the budget resumes the pre-COVID principal pay schedule for July 2022-December 2022, basing principal salaries in part on student growth from the past two out of three years (up to 2018-19); however, from January 2023-June 2023, student growth would be based only on results from FY 2021-2022, when many schools were still recovering from unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19. While a legislator involved in budget negotiations shared with NCASA that this change would only be for one year, many principals, particularly those in economically-disadvantaged schools, could see their salaries drop by up to $18,000 in the new year.

In an interview with the News & Observer, NCASA Executive Director Katherine Joyce noted, “School growth scores are not going to fare well.” She continued, “They’re going to show the same decline as we see in outcomes for students. We know that principals are expecting to take a huge pay cut in their salaries.”

Despite the fact lawmakers mostly ended the 2022 short session with the passage of the budget, legislative leadership has made plans to “gavel in” at least once per month through the rest of the year to address any time-sensitive issues, such as redistricting or elections-related matters. NCASA and NCPAPA are requesting lawmakers use one of these scheduled meeting dates to make a small technical change that would hold principals harmless whose salary placement would drop from using only 2021-2022 school growth scores, while also allowing principals who would gain from the new salary placement to retain that benefit. This change would need to be accomplished by December 31, 2022, at the latest, so LEAs could make salary adjustments to take effect in their January 2023 payroll.

In addition to ongoing advocacy efforts by NCASA, NCPAPA, and other groups on this issue, it is critical that any affected principal contact his or her legislator as soon as possible to relay their salary concerns. As many legislators across the state continue to campaign for the November elections, it is essential these lawmakers receive feedback from educators, particularly from those in their district, to emphasize a change is needed before a new General Assembly is seated in 2023.

In addition, NCASA and NCPAPA will continue to advocate for changes to the state’s overall principal salary schedule, so that less emphasis is placed on student test results. As stated by NCPAPA Executive Director Dr. Shirley Prince, in the News & Observer, “We believe in performance pay. But we don’t believe it should make such a large part of a principal’s salary and be based on one measure that can fluctuate so tremendously so that in one year you can lose $18,000 in pay.”

Learn more about the principal pay issue on EdNC here.

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