Hanover’s new teachers will be among the highest paid in North Carolina

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Some of North Carolina’s best and brightest teachers may soon make their way to New Hanover County.

County Council of Commissioners approved its budget last week, more than double the average county teacher supplements. This makes New Hanover County teachers among the highest paid in the state. New Hanover County was previously ranked 27th in the state for teacher supplements.

“We owe it to future generations to ensure that our children have the best possible education,” said Chair of the Council of Commissioners Julia Olson-Boseman. “I think we do this by attracting and keeping the best teachers possible. ”

Supplements for county teachers will now average $ 9,000, more than double the current average of $ 4,183.

Due to revaluations that have shown growth in property values, the county’s newly approved budget has allowed commissioners to reduce property taxes while increasing revenues from their general fund, which will fund increased teachers’ salaries.

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The board approved this budget by 3-2, with Olson-Boseman and Commissioners Jonathan Barfield Jr. and Bill Rivenbark voting in favor. Vice-President Deb Hays and Commissioner Rob Zapple voted against.

Olson-Boseman said she hoped this would allow teachers to support themselves from their teaching salary, rather than taking a second job besides working in schools, especially after going to school. university to obtain a degree in education.

“I just don’t think the teachers were appreciated the way they should have been,” she said. “They should be paid like doctors and lawyers and the best I can do as a commissioner is get their number one supplement.”

New Hanover County Schools Media Relations Coordinator Russell Clark said the district expects an increase in applications for teaching positions, especially those certified in special education, as they will receive a additional bonus on top of the additional increase. Clark did not give specific data on whether the district is already experiencing an increase.

While New Hanover Teacher Supplements are currently considered the first in the state, many districts have yet to approve their budgets for the next school year, which could include increases in their own teacher pay. This includes schools in Wake County, which had the highest salary for teachers in the 2020-21 school year.

And some New Hanover teachers say it may not be enough yet.

Hoggard High School teacher Allison Collins said even with the significant increase at the county level, with the cost of living high, spending will still be tight, especially in households where it is the only income. .

She said she and many other teachers were still planning on getting a second job throughout the summer. At the moment, she is teaching summer school to earn extra income.

“New Hanover County is such an expensive county to live in,” she said. “It’s really hard to live here and teach.

The National Educators Association ranked North Carolina 30th in the country for teacher salaries. Collins said the state will eventually need to take a closer look at teacher salaries in all counties, especially as the cost of living continues to rise.

The New Hanover County School Board will approve its budget at its regular board meeting in July, but the board unanimously approved the staff pay scales in June.

Board chair Stefanie Adams said she appreciates the commissioners and their partnership in moving forward to make teachers in New Hanover County schools among the highest paid in the state.

“We’re going to be able to recruit and retain the best teachers and take New Hanover County schools to new academic heights,” she said.

But others have said they want the salary increases to go beyond teachers. Judy Justice, a board member, said she wished the salaries of staff classified as bus drivers and dining room workers had increased to $ 15 an hour.

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At the board meeting, district finance director Mary Hazel Small said she would likely present the board with a compensation proposal for these staff members in July. While the increase in Commissioners ‘funds was intended for teachers, compensation for other staff depends on actions at the state level as lawmakers consider Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposal to increase educators’ salaries over the course of the next two years.

“I like the teachers. They deserve every penny they get, ”Justice said. “But so do the people who support them, and just because we’re the number one supplement for teachers in the state doesn’t mean [alleviate] the fact that our other employees deserve better.

The commissioners also approved the allocation of more than $ 1 million from the coronavirus recovery funds to support after-school programs and transportation throughout the upcoming school year. Students will be able to participate in the after-school programming, attend private lessons at Cape Fear Community College, and receive evening bus transportation back home after the programming.

The funding will run through the 2021-2022 school year, but Olson-Boseman described it as a “pilot program.”

“This is an important and daring step, of which I am very proud,” she said.

Journalist Sydney Hoover can be reached at 910-343-2339 or shoover@gannett.com.

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