State budget adds pay increase, ‘does not have huge impact’ on salaries

All North Carolina state employees will receive a 1.2 percent pay increase and five extra vacation days due to the new education budget.

However, to some faculty at the university, that may not be enough.

For the first time since 2008, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a budget that did not include severe cuts, said Susan McCracken, director of external affairs and community relations.

For the 2011-12 school year, nearly $22.8 million was cut from Appalachian’s budget.

This year, the UNC-system’s need-based financial aid increased, and state employees were given a 1.2 percent pay increase and extra vacation. In addition, three million dollars were added to the faculty retention fund, which is designed to keep professors within the UNC-system, McCracken said.

“It’s absolutely critical to do as much as we can for the employees of this university,” she said.

Michael Behrent, an assistant professor of history, began working at Appalachian in 2008 during the first set of extreme budget cuts.

“The lack of budget cuts this year doesn’t reverse the long standing trend of disinvestment,” Behrent said.

This year does bring hope to some of the faculty since there has been fear of “massive layoffs” due to budget cuts in the recent years, Behrent said.

Dean of Reich College of Education Charles Duke, said the increased salary is a step in the right direction, but still isn’t enough for faculty.

“I think [professors] will appreciate anything at this point having gone through four years with no pay raises,” Duke said. “The 1.2 percent increase does not have a huge impact on anyone’s salary but is certainly better than zero increases.”

The pay increase will help improve morale among faculty who are already hard working, he said.

“The funds made available for employee pay, although gratefully received, are in much the same condition as our budgets; one does not recover quickly from wounds that require major surgery and the educational system K-16 of North Carolina definitely has been wounded badly,” Duke said.

Story: CHESLEY FISHER, Intern News Reporter