Governor Cooper’s first budget proposal focuses on education

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – Governor Roy Cooper announced he hopes to spend one billion dollars over the next two years in his new proposed budget.

Cooper is calling his budget plan “the biggest of the decade” for teachers. He proposed a double-digit pay raise for public school teachers, bringing salaries up to the national average by 2022.

Cooper plans to implement a Best and Brightest Scholarship Program, which is expected to attract and retain the best teachers for the public school system.

“The best and brightest scholars will receive 10,000 dollars in tuition and fees, in exchange for commitment to teach in one of our state’s public schools after graduation,” said Cooper.

Pitt County Association of Educators President Lauren Piner is pleased with the program.

“I think it’s great to see the best and brightest loan forgiveness program, to attract teachers to the profession,” said Piner. “It’s very similar to the old teaching fellows program, which was extremely successful and was model legislation for other states.”

Governor Cooper also wants to increase the percentage of children enrolled in Pre-K. He said right now, only 22 percent of four year olds are enrolled. He wants to bring that number up to 55 percent, to ensure children are prepared for school from the beginning.

Governor Cooper also added that education is not just important for children.

“Let’s increase the percentage of adults who have higher education degrees. Right now, it’s about 38 percent. We need to increase that number to at least 55 percent.”

Cooper said the budget will not raise taxes or fees, and will not take away from special funds.

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