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NHC Schools submit plan to increase salaries, cut 230 positions

The current proposal provides a higher minimum wage and pay increases, but would also cut 230 positions over the next few years.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 8:00 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The New Hanover County Board of Education met for a special meeting to cover the school system’s budget on May 6. The current proposal provides a higher minimum wage and pay increases, but would also cut 230 positions over the next few years.

In the plan sent to commissioners, a $17 per hour minimum wage would be put into place. Staff in pay grades 55-78 would receive an average pay increase between 23% and 19%. As shown in the graph below, this plan would also involve an ask of $2 million from the county for FY23, but by FY25 that would increase to $8.5 million. To help pay for the increased wages, 230 positions will be cut.

If the commissioners decide against the proposed budget, the school board plans to reexamine the other two options. The first option gives a lower $16 minimum hourly wage with a 1% step, but it also only cuts 134 positions. The second keeps the minimum hourly wage at $16 with a 2% step, but would cut 265 positions.

NHCS Board of Education teacher budget increase May 6
NHCS Board of Education teacher budget increase May 6(New Hanover County Schools)

The state pays for some positions, but anything beyond this allotment is the responsibility of the county. While it remains to be seen exactly which positions will be cut, the following positions were highlighted during the meeting. Furthermore, all three versions of the budget proposed cutting positions in order to pay for other expenses.

“You put in, you gotta take out. We will have to start looking in the fall what will those cuts [will be],” said Superintendent Charles Foust.

Some of the biggest reductions are in assistant principal positions and instructional support positions, such as counselors, social workers and instructional coaches. Assistant principals would be cut from 59 to 24 (see footnote). Instructional support positions would be reduced from 238 to 115.

Classroom positions would be reduced by 22 positions: from 1151 to 1129. Elementary enrichment teachers would be reduced from 75 to the state allotted 58. Enrichment teachers typically teach in arts, music and other specialized topics.

Academically Intelligent/Gifted teachers would also be cut from 34 to 19 to match state allotments.

“I agree: [teachers assistants] need the money. But you are cutting more, more will lose money to give some money,” said Nelson Beaulieu, who voted against the measure alongside Stephanie Kraybill.

(Footnote: Though the presentation slide says that 34 assistant principal positions would need to be cut to reach the state allotment, the slide also states that the number of state staffed principals is 24 or 21 which seems to imply that at least 35 positions would need to be cut.)

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