If improving teacher pay in our district matters to you, this Thursday presents an important opportunity to speak up.
Most parents and students in the district have had a taste of how low teacher pay and a high cost of living have affected our schools. Like the high school math class that went through five teachers this year. The AP English teacher who left just before the AP exam. The great elementary school teacher headed to Wake County. And multiple special education classrooms, with some of our most fragile students, going without teachers all year, staffed only by substitutes as the district struggles to fill positions.
Everybody is fully aware of the problem. The school board had to begin recruiting teachers in April by promising competitive salaries and increases to retain our teachers, knowing that funding to cover that higher pay had not yet been committed by the county.
State legislators show little interest in truly addressing education funding issues. When the state budget finally comes out later this summer, there’ll likely be a minimal raise for teachers, but that will solve almost nothing.
Wake County isn’t waiting around on the state to save it: Wake commissioners have committed to increasing teacher salaries to the national average within the next five years. Now it’s Orange County’s turn to decide what the future of public education in our county will be.
Right now, the budget proposal presented by the county manager would leave our district at least $4 million short. For context, that equates to a $200,000 cut per school for every school in the district plus the central office.
If that $4 million gap doesn’t close, we will continue to lose teachers. The commissioners don’t have an easy job here, but they consistently give county employees raises. And last year they gave themselves a 20 percent raise. Don’t our teachers deserve similar respect?
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council consistently supports the full funding by the Orange County Commissioners of our district’s annual budget request. Come share your thoughts on the budget proposal Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Southern Human Services Center on Homestead Road. If you agree with supporting full funding of the school districts’ budget requests, we encourage you to “wear red for ed” and come out to show your support. Our teachers and students need you to speak up for them.
— Kate Underhill
President: Chapel Hill-Carrboro PTA Council