New Hanover County Board of Education members approved a pay increase after passing a motion on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to restore compensation to 2008-09 levels.
The members took an 8-percent pay cut, equal to a month’s pay, during the 2009-’10 budget planning cycle when all staff received a 1-percent salary reduction.
North Carolina approved a 1.2-percent raise for all employees effective July 1, 2012, during the 2012-13 budget process.
The board’s raise is retroactively effective July 1, 2012, as recommended by Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley.
The 8.7-percent raise, will increase board members’ salaries to $10,800 from $9,936. Chairman Don Hayes will receive an 8 percent increase raising his salary to $12,984 from $11,940.
During the public input portion of the meeting, county resident Carol Murray spoke against the increase. She said it is ludicrous to compare such a high raise for the school board to such a low raise for North Carolina school employees.
Murray, who worked for 25 years as a registered nurse for the state, said this is a time when people need to make self sacrifices to preserve community programs and services.
“One of the highest priorities for our nation is providing the best education possible for our children, an education they deserve and need,” she said.
Markley said the raises will cost a total of slightly more than $6,100.
“This was supposed to have been part of the regular budget process,” he said. “… It was the intent of the board in 2008 when employees got a raise from the state to go back and look at their compensation. And the intent was to be able to restore their compensation to its original level so it’s not an increase but a restoration of the cut that they took.”
Board member Dr. Derrick Hickey was the only dissenting vote and was also the only member who spoke about the motion. He repeatedly reiterated that the cut was a symbolic gesture when it was made and should now be another symbolic gesture.
“It’s not about the money; it’s about the message we’re sending to our teachers and to our students that times are tough, we should be doing more with less,” Hickey said. “Government needs to do more with less and the school system and the board, I think, should do more with less.
After the meeting, Murray said she was appalled and disheartened by the board’s vote.
“I’m very disheartened that the school system’s teachers and other employees will only get that 1.2 percent, but the board of education — they’re going to give themselves an 8.7-percent raise,” Murray said. “I wish when I had been a government employee I could have given myself an 8.7-percent raise.”