Pay for North Carolina Principals Among the Lowest in the Country

Public school principals in North Carolina are the lowest paid in the country. Efforts are underway to change that.

Julie Ball of the Asheville Citizen-Times reports on efforts to increase pay for principals in the state. An excerpt of the article, published on December 19, 2016, in the newspaper is below.

School principals are educators. They are also part-time social workers and some-time politicians, according to Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Jeana Conley.

“You’re like a CEO. You’re running your own little corporation,” Conley said.

But Conley and other North Carolina school superintendents say it’s increasingly difficult to recruit principals and assistant principals with North Carolina’s stagnant pay for school-based administrators. The state ranks 50th in principal pay, according to a listing compiled with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some teachers earn as much if they remain in the classroom, so there’s less incentive to take on an administrative role, school superintendents say.

“The incentive to leave the classroom and take on the headaches and problems that come with it — it’s just not there,” Conley said.

A state legislative committee has been looking at pay for principals, and North Carolina’s school superintendents have been pushing for an increase. Piecemeal changes over the years have led to a complicated pay system. Some veteran principals, for example, got raises based on academic performance and school safety goals that are no longer offered to new school administrators.

The number of employees at a school and years of experience are also factored into principal pay. A presentation to the N.C. Board of Education showed average base pay for principals in North Carolina has dropped by about $6,800 from 2008-09 through 2016. The average dropped from just under $69,500 to $62,600. That decrease occurred after the state froze the pay schedule for administrators during the recession.

It now takes longer for a beginning principal to get an increase in base pay. As veteran school leaders retire, their less experienced replacements take longer to move up the pay scale, bringing down the state pay average. “We really have a crisis,” said Shirley Prince, executive director of the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association. Prince hopes state lawmakers will act.

“What we’re hoping they (the study commission) will recommend is a salary schedule that grows as teacher salaries grow,” Prince said.

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