WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – School leaders in New Hanover County presented their wish list to county commissioners and state lawmakers during a legislative breakfast Tuesday.
From the county, the school system is requesting an increase in local supplement pay for teachers. The district also wants a school bond referendum on the November ballot to help pay for school construction, renovations and additions.
"There are a tremendous number of capital needs among our older schools and a need for expansion for new schools as the county grows," said New Hanover County Commissioner Beth Dawson, explaining the county is prioritizing the list of projects that would be funded with bonds.
New Hanover County Schools is also seeking continued support for on-going facility and technology needs and for the development of a per-pupil funding formula.
Gov. Pat McCrory and top lawmakers recently announced a plan to boost pay for starting teachers, but the school district wants a raise for all employees next year.
"If we don't do something to those new teachers, there's going to be some concerns, but let's not also forget our veteran teachers, who have been in the classroom, and who bring the wealth of experience," said Superintendent Tim Markley.
New Hanover County Schools is also requesting a long-term plan for teacher pay, including clarification of a new law that requires school boards to offer bonuses to 25 percent of their teachers in exchange for their tenure status.
"We're all in favor of rewarding our teachers. We don't necessarily think that was the best way to go about that," said Markley.
The district is also asking the state to clear up confusion pertaining to Read to Achieve, a new law involving testing third graders for reading ability.
Another legislative priority - more local flexibility in setting the school calendar, a point Markley said was highlighted by recent winter storms.
Rep. Ted Davis (R) said he knows some people are upset about recent changes to public education in the state, adding that GOP lawmakers are receptive to tweaking some of the recent legislation.
"The Republicans are talking about things that are coming to their attention that might be wrong with what was done or wrong with the system now, and we are at least talking about trying to do something," said Davis. "What that can be, I can't sit here and tell you the definitive plan."
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