By Kassie Simmons | May 4, 2021 at 4:54 PM EDT – Updated May 4 at 7:42 PM
NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) – Teacher Appreciation Week took on a new meaning for New Hanover County teachers after the NHC Board of Education approved the County Budget Request that included an increase in supplemental pay for teachers at a meeting Monday night.
The County Budget Request for FY 2021-22 was approved unanimously. Now the budget has been passed, the proposal goes back to the commission for a vote next month.
New Hanover County wants to bring top-of-the-class educators to the school system. The idea stemmed from the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.
“We’re adding roughly $11 million to our budget — carving out $11 million for that one item,” said Commissioner Jonathan Barfield. “We’re adding to the fact that we’re showing our appreciation for educators; we’re adding to make our school system the best it can be. We’re really just making an investment in those educators.”
Barfield hopes to put the district at the top of the list for teacher salaries in the state and, in turn, bring more teachers to the county. The proposed change would nearly double what the county chips in for teacher salaries.
“Our supplement here has been just over $4,600 a year in addition to what the state pays the teachers,” said Barfield. “We want to get that closer to a $9,000 a year supplement across the board for our educators.”
Barfield says they’re excited to offer this to teachers. He says that not only is it well deserved, but he hopes it leads to more growth in the school system.
“Our goal is really to attract and retain the best quality teachers in our state and in our community,”said Barfield. “One way you can do that is by offering a higher incentive for them to come here, so we have allocated just over $11 million additional in our budget this year towards teacher supplements to make us, hopefully, number one in the state.”
The fate of the proposal was in the hands of the NHC Board of Education.
“I certainly hope my fellow board members feel the same way I do about giving teachers raises,” said board member Nelson Beaulieu.
If everything checks out, teachers should see the bigger paychecks next school year.
“We ask them to perform miracles and they deliver every single time and then they’ll throw in a few miracles we didn’t even ask for,” said Beaulieu.
Beaulieu says he hopes the pay increases will not only make teachers feel appreciated, but attract a more diverse job candidate pool moving forward.
Another item for consideration on the Board of Education agenda was the selection of designers for the new River Lights Elementary School and the rebuild/upgrades to Pine Valley and Mary C. Williams Elementary Schools.
Board members approved the three recommended firms of the 13 that responded to the project announcement. Staff expects the designs to be complete and estimates to be in place by January 2022.
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