Todd LoFrese, the assistant superintendent for CHCCS, said that the state provides the largest portion of a teacher’s salary, while the CHCCS district supplement ranges from 12 percent to 25 percent for more experienced teachers.
“We do anticipate the board approving the budget request to the county commissioners at our next meeting,” LoFrese said. “We’ve also asked the board to approve a teacher supplement increase.”
Rani Dasi, a CHCCS school board member, said that she agrees with the budget increase proposal, and that she wants to keep quality teachers within the district.
“The really sad thing is that North Carolina is suffering; really what should be happening is the state should be supporting the teachers, but they aren’t, so local districts have to do it. I’d really like to see the state provide higher compensation for our teachers,” she said.
Taber said that the budget increase will help CHCCS stay competitive with Wake County Schools, which have already included teacher pay raises in their budgets. She said that although low pay alone wouldn’t cause her to leave her job, low salaries may drive out newer teachers who aren’t as established in the community.
“I’m very lucky in that I love my school, my coworkers, my students and the surrounding community I work in,” Taber said. “And if those things weren’t great, and I was making low pay, then I’d probably leave.”
Despite school board support for the teacher supplement increase, the responsibility rests with the Orange County Commissioners, who determine how much money is allocated to the school system.
Once the school board finalizes the request for a budget increase in April, the proposal will move to the county commissioners to be decided by the end of June.
Earl McKee, chairperson of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, said that the budget public hearings concerning the proposal will occur May 12 and May 19. He said the board has no opinion on the proposal yet since they haven’t seen it, but that they try to accommodate the school board on its requests.
McKee said that he supports increases in teacher pay.
“I think from the school’s perspective, to increase teacher pay is to better maintain our teachers,” he said. “They’re trying to make sure all our children get a good education.”