WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- As local education administrators call for state lawmakers to increase spending in schools, Sen. Thom Goolsby says the group he affectionately calls "educrats" needs to do its homework.
But educators say it's the senator who needs to check his facts.
Southeastern North Carolina's biggest school system will start the 2013 school year without a few of its top teachers, including last year's Teacher of the Year, who left the education field due to what they called lack of competitive pay.
"When you lose a young teacher of that caliber, it has a tremendous impact," New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Tim Markley said. "When they tell their story about having to leave because their pay wasn't enough to help them support their family, that's a message to other young folks entering the profession."
Sen. Goolsby (R-9th District) recently took issue with claims like that, pointing out that the average teacher in North Carolina makes close to $46,000 a year with benefits pushing that total closer to $60,000.
"North Carolina, as far as state government goes, is No. 11 In the country as far as funding," Goolsby said. "Where North Carolina falls down is on local funding for education, but you never hear that from the 'educrats' and the (North Carolina Association of Educators)."
Goolsby says that if people are concerned, it is their local government that needs to step up.
"That's the way other states do it that spend more," Goolsby said. "That's the way North Carolina can do it if the people want it, if the city councils and county commissions are willing to do it."
But Dr. Markley says that's simply not possible.
"The Constitution of North Carolina is pretty clear that the foundation for a sound basic education rests with the state," he said.
Teachers in North Carolina received a 1.2-percent pay increase last year. It was their first pay increase in more than five years.