Wake County Budget Could Include Teacher Raise

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If a revised budget is adopted, Wake County teachers could see a small increase in their supplemental pay.

On Monday, County Commission members asked that County Manager Jim Hartmann work with Wake Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill to “identify alternatives and strategies … to increase the locally funded teacher supplement,” said Board Chair Phil Matthews, reading from a prepared statement.

Commissioner Paul Coble added that these long- and short-term strategies should not include a tax increase.

The amount of the increase wasn’t determined. Wake currently has the second-highest local supplement at $6,200. Matthews said he wants to raise the supplement so that Wake has the highest in the state. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system holds the top spot at $6,400.

The state sets a base pay for all teachers in the state and counties can add a supplement to boost teacher pay.

These options will be presented at the county’s budget work session June 9.

Hartmann’s first budget as Wake County manager is also the first to surpass the $1 billion mark at $1.06 billion, an 8 percent increase from the current budget. The budget includes a 4.4-cent tax increase to fund school renovations and new facility construction. Voters approved the increase in October.

Hartmann allocated an additional 3 percent, or $10.2 million, to fund education initiatives laid out in the budget proposed by Wake Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill. The increase is a far cry from the $39 million that Merrill requested, which included a raise to the teacher supplemental pay.

Despite rallies and impassioned pleases from teachers and supporters, Hartmann’s budget did not include the funding needed for a 3.5 percent across-the-board raise.

Hartmann previously said county officials wanted to wait and see what decision the state makes before implementing any sort of pay increase.

Teachers across the state have not seen a significant increase in their salaries since before the recession. The state Senate’s proposed budget includes raises for teachers, but only if they give up their tenure rights.

On Saturday, a few hundred teachers attended a job fair hosted by Houston Public Schools after it advertised a $46,800 starting salary, which is higher than most experienced teachers make in North Carolina.

“This should be a big wake up call for all of us,” said WakeUp Wake County’s Karen Rindge.

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