Cumberland County Schools is upset that their teacher salary supplement isn’t as big as Wake County’s.
It’s another challenge for less wealthy communities, like Cumberland and Hoke counties, that already pay significantly less than the districts in the Triangle area, the Charlotte area and other parts of the state that have higher incomes and strong tax bases. Wake County, in the Triangle, already paid its teachers an average of about $2,400 more per year than Cumberland County.
“Clearly, anytime anybody close to us is offering more, it does present a problem to us, and we do lose teachers to Wake County now,” said Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Frank Till Jr. “So it does create some issues for us.”
So, the narrative we’ve heard from various sources is that North Carolina doesn’t pay it’s teacher enough. The untold part of that narrative is that the teacher supplemental pay is set by the individual districts.
Ok, so the teachers in Cumberland have a smaller supplement. The county sets that, so why not raise it? They have no problem paying their Superintendent generously, after all.
At last check when WRAL produced a list of Superintendent contracts back in 2013, Superintendent Frank Till has a state salary of $138,996 and a local salary of $98,824. This makes for a grand total in compensation of $237,820. This made him the 4th highest paid Superintendent in the state back in 2013.
In 2014-15, Cumberland had 3,339 teachers with an average supplement of $3,569. They ranked 21st in the state at that time.
In the same time period, Wake county had 9, 798 teachers making an average supplement of $5,994. Wake county’s supplement was the third highest in the state, behind Chapel Hill/Carrboro and Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
Chapel Hill/Carrboro was in the number one spot with a supplement of $ 6,892 and which had 1,159 teachers. Charlotte-Mecklenburg was in second place with 10,073 teachers and a supplement of $6,632.
Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg are the two largest districts in the state. Perhaps they are too large? Maybe it’s time to again have the discussion about breaking them up, however the powers that be will likely never let that happen.
Typically, what happens in Wake County Schools tends to trickle down into the rest of the districts across the state. Arguably, what we’re seeing here is the Wake County Board manipulating the teacher pay narrative by increasing their supplement. They can then say, ‘see, the state wouldn’t do it so we did’. Meanwhile, other districts with fewer resources like Cumberland can then become media fodder for a revival of attacks on the General Assembly.
Remember, step pay has been reinstated and entry level salaries boosted. That narrative being laid down by Wake County does not lend itself to answering the question: Where do you expect the funds to come from for state-wide legislative increases?
Related Reading: Wake Teacher Pay Proposal Offers No Real Solutions