Cary, North Carolina – Employees of the Wake County public school system can expect salary increases this year beyond those recently approved in the new state budget.
The Wake County School Board on Tuesday night approved a $2.3 billion budget for this fiscal year that adds additional wage increases for hourly workers and local supplement increases for educators.
The budget also includes staffing for four new schools, maintenance, special education, and some additional hires in human resources, technology, and support services.
The increases will be reflected in September paychecks, and pay will also reflect higher salaries dating back to July 1 – the start of the fiscal year.
The increases are just the latest of several the school board has approved since last fall, the most dramatic of which were approved in December. It’s also part of a year-long plan to raise local wages and local wage supplements even more each year across the district.
“There’s still a lot of work to do,” business manager David Neter told the school board Tuesday night.
Since December, the starting salary for teaching assistants in the Wake County public school system has nearly doubled from $11.80 a year ago and coincided with a drop in job vacancies.
“From a personal perspective, it’s powerful to see this difference,” said board member Karen Carter, who was a special education teacher’s assistant before joining the school board in late 2020.
“I know there are other reasons people come and go, but I also know that pay is important to a lot of our staff,” Carter said. Many teaching assistants — including her — and others work two or three jobs to make ends meet and wonder if they can afford to buy health insurance for their families, she said.
While the increases coincided with lower vacancy rates for some hourly workers, that was not the case for school bus drivers. Their wages went from $15 to $16.20 an hour last winter. Bus drivers will earn $17.20 this year under the new pay scale.
Under the new school system budget, teachers and principals would receive 4% increases to their local salary supplements, instead of the 2.5% increases originally promised by the school board.
For teachers, it would be between $276.08 and $541.60 more next year.
Hourly employees would receive a minimum wage of $16 an hour or a 4% raise, whichever is greater. That would be a raise for many employees, which the county originally sought to award raises to $16 an hour or a 2.5% raise, whichever is greater.
Because lawmakers, with Governor Roy Cooper’s signature, increased salaries for school employees more than originally planned, the school system is able to cover more salary increases than it needs. had originally asked the Wake County commissioners.
Commissioners approved all but $6 million of the school board’s requested budget for this year, including a $50 million increase in county funding. This budget request already included salary increases.
But the school system will spend more than originally planned to cover increases for locally funded employees. These increases will be higher than expected to match their state-funded counterparts, but will not include any state funding.
Consequently, the school board had to find $9.2 million to cut from its budget plan to avoid a shortfall.
The council’s new budget accounts for the $9.2 million shortfall by increasing federal grant revenue projections by $3 million, moving $3 million in lapsed salaries projected for vacancies, moving $3 million from the district’s fund balance, appropriating $180,000 in new state funds received for its new Wake Early College of Information and Biotechnologies and cutting $59,000 from the district’s furniture budget.