Wake County Schools

Wake seeks top billing in NC for teacher salaries

Posted June 2, 2014
Updated June 3, 2014

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— The Wake County Board of Commissioners is gunning for the top spot statewide in terms of local supplements to teacher salaries.

The county currently adds up to $6,200 to the state-funded salary of teachers, but Chairman Phil Matthews said Monday that the county wants to top the $6,400 supplement that Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools now pays its teachers. He said the board recognizes a top-notch school system is critical to economic development across the county.

"Our target is to make teachers in Wake County No. 1 in supplemental pay," Matthews said. "Our intent is to take care of our teachers where we can."

No details about where the money will come from were discussed, but the Board of Commissioners is expected to make some decisions on the issue at its June 9 work session.

Matthews said raising the local supplement is only a short-term goal, and the board asked County Manager Jim Hartmann to work with school Superintendent Jim Merrill on long-term plans for teacher pay.

Hartmann left funding for teacher raises out of the budget he presented to county commissioners two weeks ago, saying he wanted to see how the legislature addressed teacher pay before committing any money toward it.

The state Senate passed a budget on Saturday that creates a pay scale for teachers who give up their career status, or tenure rights. Teachers moving to the new scale would receive an average 11 percent raise. The House is expected to begin working on its budget proposal this week.

The Wake County Board of Education last month approved a $1.37 billion operating budget that included an additional $29 million to fund a 3.5 percent pay raise for teachers and school staff.

“I’m optimistic … but our request was just the first step in a five-year plan to get the school system where it needs to be," school board Chairwoman Christine Kushner said of the commissioners' push for higher supplements. "I don’t want to lose sight that our budget requests included raises for teacher assistants and bus drivers and other school employees whose salaries have been stagnant for years.”

Matthews said providing the $29 million requested "would require a lot of looking at and would cost another tax increase."

Still, several teachers and local residents urged commissioners to do everything possible to support teachers.

"Our schools provide local businesses with their workforces, and this human talent is vital for our community’s success," business owner Emily Parks said. "It is with a strong school system that Wake County can compete to bring in new businesses, big businesses that will hire our neighbors and contribute taxes."

Former teacher Beth Dickinson said she made $7,000 more a year in Florida 12 years ago than what she could make in Wake County now if she returned to the classroom.

"It won’t take much to turn this tide. It will simply take a little more respect," Dickinson said. "I ask you to change our priorities and not wait to see what the state does in regards to pay."


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  • Kenny Dunn Jun 2, 2014
    user avatar

    Looks like the turnout for those Houston jobs got someone's attention.

  • MrMourning Jun 2, 2014

    Clowns abound. So let me get this straight. Not 3.5% a year, $200 a year and we are calling it action. Now maybe, just maybe I can trade up to Charmin instead of Scott, maybe. Oh! wait a minute increases in health, taxes and the general cost of living will eat up way more than $200. I might have to settle on leaves. But hey, It was my choice to work with kids. I should just shut up and be glad I am going home with more than and apple.

  • Olenc Native Jun 2, 2014
    user avatar

    They fear a coming teacher shortage. They want to have the advantage on the other school systems, who are all now scrambling to fill vacant positions before the few remaining teachers are snatched up.

  • Not_So_Dumb Jun 2, 2014

    $200 you will be expected to spend on supplies for you classroom since that same admin siphons money off for their own pet projects.

  • nobodyknow420 Jun 2, 2014

    This is a joke...have fun in Houston!!! Be sure to write back to your fellow coworkers and tell them how amazing the salary is! I hope all the teachers leave so the government can end up with the uneducated mindless drones they hope to develop from all this political waste.

  • Ryan Kurtz Jun 2, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


  • Bobby Medlin Jun 2, 2014
    user avatar

    NC politicians are so last minute and self serving.

  • Greg Boop Jun 2, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    There are other school systems from neighboring states also holding recruiting fairs in North Carolina. What achieved the significant media attention with the Houston job fair was that they were bold enough to directly place their starting salary in their ad - and use it as the primary recruiting point.

  • downeast2 Jun 2, 2014

    View quoted thread


  • Kenny Dunn Jun 2, 2014
    user avatar

    I would love to see Wake raise the salaries to match Chapel Hill-Carrboro. We have one of the best school districts in the country and while the salaries are not the entire story they are certainly a part of it.