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**Principals Urge Lawmakers to Revise Payment Structure**

North Carolina principals have urged state legislators to revise the state’s compensation plan, expressing concerns about the current system that heavily links pay to test score growth rather than rewarding principals for effectively leading challenging schools. While they appreciate the pay increase implemented six years ago, they emphasized the need for adjustments this year to retain top talent and prevent principals from seeking opportunities elsewhere.

Effective principals play a crucial role in attracting and retaining quality teachers, which is essential for enhancing student outcomes. The longevity and impact of a principal and faculty in addressing students’ needs, especially in high-poverty schools, are pivotal for academic improvement.

Currently, principal salaries are determined based on school size, with larger schools receiving higher pay. For instance, the base salary for principals leading schools with fewer than 200 students is approximately \(75,500, increasing to \)94,400 for schools with over 1,600 students.

Ashley Faulkenberry, an elementary school principal in Craven County, emphasized the need for a more nuanced approach in salary tiers, considering factors like the number of economically disadvantaged, homeless, English language learners, and students with disabilities. She highlighted the challenges faced by principals in managing complex schools, citing increased stress, burnout, turnover, and instability.

Proposed changes include introducing a “complexity tier” that accounts for school demographics and challenges, with salaries ranging from \(82,650 to about \)105,500. Additionally, the plan suggests reducing the bonus tied to student test score growth from 10% to 5% for meeting targets and from 20% to 10% for exceeding them.

John Lassiter, a grammar school principal in Perquimans County, supported performance-based pay but raised concerns about potential salary reductions for principals due to factors beyond their control. The proposal also includes a “retention pay” incentive of \(2,000 to \)6,000 annually for principals serving for five years or more.

While some committee members, like Rep. Brian Biggs, expressed interest in the proposal’s focus on retaining talented principals in challenging roles, others, like Rep. Hugh Blackwell, questioned the impact of reducing rewards linked to test score growth on overall effectiveness.

The House Select Committee on Education Reform plans to assess the cost implications of the proposal before presenting recommendations to the General Assembly during the 2024 short session. The final decision on the revisions to the compensation plan will be made following the committee’s meeting later this month.

Chart illustrating how the growth ratings, which control thousands of dollars of each principals’ pay, are linked to school poverty levels.

NC Principals & Assistant Principals Association

Chart illustrating how the growth ratings, which control thousands of dollars of each principals’ pay, are linked to school poverty levels.