WCPSS expects Board of Education vote on $15 minimum wage proposal
Posted November 18, 2021 5:31 p.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — Wake County Public School System officials plan to bring a minimum wage proposal of $15 per hour to the Wake County Board of Education next month, they wrote in a memo to employees this week.
The board has approved wage increases and bonuses this month as employee shortages linger and morale continues to plummet. But many board members and district officials have cited a lack of funding from the state as a barrier to additional pay increases.
But district leaders hope to bring forth the pay increase proposal now that a new state budget has been passed, with Gov. Roy Cooper expected to sign it. The budget includes additional state funding for employees, including a $13 minimum wage.
“We will analyze the approved State budget and finalize changes to the proposed district budget the Board approved last spring,” officials wrote in the memo. “It is expected that staff will bring a proposal for Board approval at the Dec. 7 meeting that will include additional increases to hourly wages. The goal is a minimum hourly wage of $15 with higher hourly rates for instructional assistants and bus drivers.”
The board raised the minimum wage for district employees to $13 per hour at its Nov. 2 meeting. That change impacted about 1,600 employees. A minimum wage increase to $15 per hour would impact about 3,500 employees.
Included among them would be many instructional assistants — classroom employees who often help special education students remain in general education classrooms. Instructional assistants, before Nov. 2, started out at $11.80 per hour. They still have to work 24 years with the district to earn $15 per hour.
Instructional assistants, special education instructional assistants and special education teachers have some of the highest vacancy rates in the district and statewide.
Bus drivers already earn $15 per hour to start. Wages top out at $23.37 for those with 32 full years of experience, or 38.4 10-month school years of experience.
But a driver shortage and subsequent increased responsibilities have led to drivers calling in sick to protest working conditions. Despite offering a bonus to new bus drivers, the district now has fewer drivers than it did when it began offering the bonus.