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School board improves salary increase for veteran teachers

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About 1,700 veteran teachers in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools will get a raise that puts them in line with the 4% average pay increase that the General Assembly passed in June. At its meeting Tuesday, the school board unanimously approved the salary bump, which will be paid for with $1.8 million in sales-tax revenue.

The increase will be retroactive, dating to July 1. Teachers can expect to get a paycheck in a few weeks that covers July-October, then see the raise incorporated into their November paychecks that are issued at the end of the month, said Thomas Kranz, the school district’s chief finance officer.

In North Carolina, the state pays for teacher salaries, with many local governments boosting the salary with a supplement. The state salary schedule includes yearly increases, known as steps, up until a teacher’s 15th year of employment. From years 16-24, teachers do not get step increases. Once they hit year 25, they get one last step increase, but the steps end after year 26.

As a result, many veteran teachers got raises significantly less than the 4% average that state lawmakers approved last summer.

District leaders said they believe the boost will help them retain and recruit teachers and make them more competitive with surrounding counties, particularly Guilford County.

“We wanted to do all we could, and we found out there was a way to do it,” said school board chairwoman Deanna Kaplan. “We’re so excited.”

In 2020, Forsyth County voters approved a quarter-cent sales-tax increase to be used to boost supplemental pay for teachers. Money for the local supplement comes from county commissioners.

The school district recently learned that sales-tax revenues over the past year were higher than the county projected, resulting in an additional $1.9 million in sales-tax revenue. The county is expected to forward the money to the school district in the coming weeks.

Kranz said he is confident that the yearly sales-tax revenues will be enough to cover the increased salaries moving forward.

Veteran teachers said they are glad to see the raise.

Michele Jordan, who is in her 20th year as a teacher in North Carolina, was looking at four more years without a step increase.

“Thank you for all for doing something for us veterans,” Jordan, a teacher at Brunson Elementary School, told the board before it voted on the increase.

After the meeting, Lee Childress, who is in his 15th year of teaching, said veteran teachers have felt forgotten.

“It’s really significant that the local district will rectify what the state will not,” said Childress, a homebound-hospital teacher.

Also at the meeting, school leaders paid their respects to Stan Elrod, a longtime educator and school board candidate, who died last week.

“I had the privilege of meeting him on many occasions, but it’s more about what I heard about him, the consistent message about his devotion to our children. He will be missed,” said Superintendent Tricia McManus.

Board member Elisabeth Motsinger called him an extraordinary leader.

“I hope we’re inspired by his life and carry that forward,” she said.

Susan Miller, who was chosen by Forsyth County Republicans to replace Elrod on the ballot, attended Tuesday’s meeting.

336-727-7420

@lisaodonnellWSJ

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