RALEIGH – A bill that aims to improve education in North Carolina got its first vote of approval.

The Excellence in Public Education Act saw multiple changes from the original proposal when it was presented to a senate committee Tuesday.

But even though the bill has advanced, many say it still has flaws.

The general concept of the Public Education Excellence Act seems to have broad support. But the devil is in the details.

The bill’s sponsor is the top man in the senate: President Pro-Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham.

He said one of the issues he is hearing the most about in this reform bill is whether or not teachers could and should be given longer than a one-year contract.

In the proposal presented Tuesday, Berger changed the bill to allow up to four-year contracts.

“The local school boards should have the discretion to employ local professionals on contracts that extend beyond one year,” said Berger.

Also at issue in the excellence bill is pay for performance for teachers, giving bonuses to educators who excel, but educators said they would rather lawmakers take a different route.

We believe lawmakers would do best to focus efforts on increasing pay for teachers and all state employees who have gone four years with no increase, not even for a cost of living,” said Carol Vandenberg, with Professional Educators of North Carolina.

But one of the main components of the bill would increase reading proficiency in grades kindergarten through third grade. Even those who support that idea said this bill might not work.

“We all agree with that goal,” said Senate Minority Leader Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe. “It’s just a question of how you get there and I don’t believe this year saying we are going to do it and not putting any money into personnel to do it moves anything ahead.”

It is expected these proposed changes could cost more than $45 million next year and more in years to follow.

This education overhaul advanced out of committee. It will be considered by one more committee before being debated by the full Senate.