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NHC schools teacher assistants rally for wage improvements

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 5:47 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A group of New Hanover County school staff turned out ahead of the NHC Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening to call for wage improvements and steps to address safety issues.

A press conference was held outside the Board of Education building on S. 13th Street to call on the district to use American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to prevent a staffing crisis.

Teacher assistants (TAs) called for starting wages of $17 per hour.

“I’ve taken over biology classes being the teacher and the TA assisting my special needs students and other students trying to do both because we don’t have enough substitutes and it’s tough,” said Christine Miranda Ambriz. “My breaking point would be to have no raise at all. I mean, at least offer us a starting at 17 an hour and offer me something because I go to Costco and can start at $20 to $25 an hour and be appreciated for what I do. TAs are quitting, taking early retirement; we’re just burnt out. I’m reaching burn out very very quickly — we’re not even at 100 days yet.”

At its October meeting the board agreed to the superintendent’s recommendation to find a consultant to conduct a “climate survey” because morale has been so low among teachers in the county. Although staff agree this is a step forward, they want the district to move more quickly.

In a news release from the North Carolina Association of Educators, teacher assistants expressed concern about staff shortages.

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it, in my 15 years teaching. I’ve outlasted 56 TA’s at my school, alone,” said Erin Jones, Special Education TA, Hoggard High School.

Last month, the Board of Education agreed to bump pay for substitute teachers after teachers voiced concerns.

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