The budget proposes a 5 percent pay raise for teachers, and a $250 bonus for first-year teachers that would raise their salaries to $30,000; $7 million for a dropout prevention program; $20 million more in school funding for at-risk students; $3.2 million more for Governor Easley's Learn & Earn program, and $6.4 million in additional monies to expand Learn & Earn online. It also includes $2.85 million to hire 60 tutors to help with school literacy programs for struggling eighth-graders.
Both community colleges and the university system would receive all of the funding requested for enrollment growth at their campuses, while community colleges would get $12.4 million for an expanded facilities and equipment grant program. The community college system received a total of $34 million, a 3.8 percent increase. This money includes $10 million for equipment and $5 million for advanced planning. This investment will ensure that these critical centers for local education and job training have the money and facilities they need to complete their missions.
Need-based financial aid at the universities would increase by nearly $28 million under the plan. In addition, the governor's EARN Scholars program would get $75 million over the next two years. The program would provide $4,000 a year scholarships to 12,500 community college and UNC system students with the greatest financial need.