Guilford County Schools proposes staff-wide pay raise in upcoming budget

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County Schools officials hope to provide a 3 percent pay raise to all staff members in the upcoming school year if their 2016-2017 proposed budget is approved by county commissioners.

GCS Interim Superintendent Nora Carr presented the budget proposal Tuesday evening to the Board of Education.

Carr requested $191.9 million from the county, an $8.5 million increase from last year.

The majority of that additional $8.5 million, the proposal states, would fund a 3 percent salary increase for all GCS employees, teacher recruitment initiatives and performance incentives for teachers.

The remaining sum would go toward strategic plan initiatives, like new health technology for Northeast High School, school personnel, increases in operating costs, like custodial supplies and liability insurance, and an additional 880 students in charter schools.

Julie Pirtle, a single mother and fourth-grade teacher at McNair Elementary, said a 3 percent salary increase would be helpful, but not enough in the long term. She said she currently works three jobs to make ends meet. She said, at one point, she worked nine.

Pirtle said, although she feels a higher salary is necessary, she teaches for the love of it.

"It's the greatest," she said. "Being in a room with a group of students and seeing them understand something that 40 minutes earlier they didn't understand -- there's nothing better in the world."

GCS Chief Financial Officer Angie Henry said it's crucial for the budget to focus on retention and recruiting because many teachers are leaving for other sectors or leaving the state for better-paying teaching jobs. She said fewer and fewer college students are choosing to major in education.

Henry said North Carolina is currently ranked 48th for teacher pay. Starting salary for a teacher at GCS is just over $39,000.

GCS gets the majority of its budget from the state. In total, it is requesting $695,373,422.