Additional $3K pay hike proposed for teachers

Apr. 26—By Cheryl Duncan — Editor

School officials are talking about $3,000 across-the-board pay raises for Cumberland County teachers and administrators in the next fiscal year.

That's above the amount based on the school district's teacher scale, which uses a complex formula to derive at salaries based on the number of days teachers work per year. Though it's ultimately up to the Board of Education and County Commission to decide, it's the plan most favored by the school board's budget committee when they met Wednesday.

"We gave 8% last year, which was a pretty hefty increase," said Teresa Boston, board chairman and budget committee member, during a Wednesday afternoon meeting of the committee. "And we knew we wouldn't be able to keep it up."

The school board's budget committee includes Boston, 8th District; Anita Hale, 4th District; and Chris King, 6th District. The trio learned earlier this month that salary increases for teachers and administrative personnel, referred to as certified staff, consume more than $3 million of the next fiscal year's budget that's funded by county, state and federal dollars of more than $70.28 million.

Another $658,000 goes toward raises for classified employees, or those with no teaching credentials. They include personnel such as clerical staff and teachers aides.

Teachers are paid for working 200 days per year, 180 of which are spent with students in the classroom.

"The way teacher pay in 95% of the counties is done is based on years of experience and your educational level," explained Kim Bray, the district's chief operating officer. "That's the way the state lays it out. Now they pay for one advanced degree. They don't care if you've got a master's, an Ed.S. or a doctorate. They've got bachelor's, advanced degree. Whereas most districts do exactly what's done here, and it really has nothing to do with the position. It's based on years of experience and your level of education."

Director of Schools William Stepp pointed out that teachers' salaries top out at 25 years. He also reminded board members that the district is under a mandate from Gov. Bill Lee to raise teachers' starting salaries to a minimum of $50,000 within the next two years.

"We'll have to make a calculation, and I will make a recommendation of what our team has looked at," he said. "Then the board will decide do we want to spread it over two years evenly, or we want to frontload it and just get it over with and not deal with it the next year. There's a lot of variables to that, including our own budgetary needs."

Ninth District board member Shannon Stout was at Wednesday's meeting. She asked how the $3,000 bump in pay would affect administrators on the competitive front with surrounding counties.

"I still think it'll put us in a pretty good position," Bray replied. "I think for districts our similar size, with our total package — with our insurance package and other things we offer — I think it'll be competitive. Our package, as far as our insurance, nobody can beat it."

Bray proposed basing administrator pay on a plan she termed "40-80-80" that would allocate an additional $40 per day to assistant principals, with other administrators earning an additional $80 per day.

"To be an assistant principal, over and above, that would be an additional $200 a week," she explained. "That seems reasonable to me."

The pay raises proposed during the meeting would add $162,000 to the original proposed budget, Bray said.

The "40-80-80" plan was tabled during in Wednesday's session to give committee members an opportunity to further study it.

The budget committee met Monday to address maintenance needs in the upcoming budget. Another meeting to consider the draft budget including the $3,000 pay increase will convene Tuesday at Central Office on 368 Fourth St. The meeting will start at 4:30 p.m.

Contact Cheryl Duncan at or 931-484-5145.