Wake County Schools

Wake seeks top billing in NC for teacher salaries

Posted June 2, 2014
Updated June 3, 2014

— 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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  • Milton Bailey Jun 3, 2014
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    If we could get rid of the illegal students in our schools, we would not need the new schools or additional teachers, maybe not all that we now employ. Those funds could be distributed to those teaching and increase their pay without a tax increase.

    I am concerned that POTUS refuses to allow wholesale deportation of illegals. If they are in the USA without proper documentation, they have broken our laws and should not be allowed to remain here.

    No other country in the world allows people to remain in their country wothout proper documents, unless they are in prison for entering that country.


  • Stilllearnin Jun 3, 2014

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    But wait, the new school superintendent wants everyone to get a raise including administrators.

  • NHS_Junior Jun 3, 2014

    The supplement is added on to the base salary offered by the state and is usually paid twice yearly. It is also taxed at a 40%-50% rate because it is not normal income but is instead a supplement.

  • Terry Watts Jun 3, 2014
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    b/c Wake has taxed on its own residents for the extra money. You too can have the same benefits in your county, if you would raise your taxes.

    But I would agree - equalize it. The State should tax and distribute money equally across the State so that no one county needs to raise its own taxes in order to have an effective system. And conversely, no one county should have is own limitation in tax revenue prevent it from having effective schools.

  • Terry Watts Jun 3, 2014
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    The Districts have been supplementing the pay of Teachers within their Districts (when they can, and however much they are able) for a long time...

  • farm Jun 3, 2014

    Could the counties have been doing this the whole time? But the current Gov and GA are catching all the flack? I'm not in step with all of the gop admin... but it ain't all their fault.

  • Forthe Newssite Jun 3, 2014
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    Self-serving doesn't BEGIN to cover it!

  • Joseph Smith Jun 3, 2014
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    There's plenty of waste to target. Take that money and give it to the teachers. Cut administration by 50% as a start.

  • Greg Boop Jun 3, 2014
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    So you are against free markets. All the teachers should simply be locked into what minimal amount the state is willing to pay them. And all teachers in the state should be paid the same no matter if they teach in a low-cost rural area or a high-cost urban area (which is why supplemental pay was put into place originally).

    I would take the entire supplemental concept a step further to make teacher pay competitive and spark competition for the best teachers across the state. Every county and every city/town should be allowed to provide supplemental pay to teachers, and local residents should directly vote on each proposed supplemental increase. This would enable a race to the top. After all, strong local schools lead to strong local home values.

  • Grand Union Jun 3, 2014

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    That would be the ideal but with the State consistantly underfunding education, wealthy counties like Wake have had to step up and take up the slack. Yes this does disadvantage other poorer counties but until the State takes it responsibilities seriously its the best that we can do.