While it’s an uphill battle, Wake County school board members say they’re not giving up on trying to get county commissioners to fund a 3.5 percent pay raise for all school employees.
As noted in today’s article, school board members talked Tuesday about the need to raise teacher pay both locally and statewide to promote excellence in schools. That means, they say, keeping up lobbying efforts even though County Manager Jim Hartmann is recommending that commissioners not provide the $29.1 million that the school system says is needed for the pay raises.
"It's very critical to me the we continue to advocate for the resources we need in Wake County to bring excellence to every single school, and that starts with high quality teacher workforce, teaching assistants, bus drivers and cafeteria workers,” school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said during board comments. “So know that we will continue to discuss these issues with the county commissioners. I've asked each board member to reach out and continue to inform county leaders of our needs."
School board vice chairman Tom Benton said that not providing the resources schools need is “failing as a society.”
"We're at a time where we've got to decide as a county if we want to not just sustain excellence in some of our schools, but are we ready to step up to the table to provide the funding to make sure we have excellence in all of our schools?” Benton said. “And that's really what our budget issues are about today.
Excellence in all of our schools starts with a quality teacher in every classroom. And if we can't step up to the plate to make sure that we're providing the resources so that not just the citizens of Wake County can have that as an expectation, but everybody in North Carolina can have that as an expectation, then we're failing as a society."
Benton said that 3.5 percent isn’t really that much of a raise. He said that’s just $35 more week for a teacher making $40,000 and $19 more per week for a support staff person making $22,000.
School board member Jim Martin said that they need to stress to county and state leaders they’re just trying to make up for how teachers haven’t been getting for years the step increases in the state pay scale.
"We're not talking about being glamorous and giving luxury," Martin said. "We're talking about making good on what was promised."
Look for school system supporters to show up at the June 2 budget public hearings held by commissioners. The budget vote should take place June 16.