An increase in salary for the county’s classroom teachers could happen if the public votes to approve a sales tax increase of one-half cent at the March 3 primary election.
That would bring the total of the sales tax to 9.75 percent, which is the maximum the state allows. If passed the sales tax on a $100 item would increase 50 cents.
County Commission Kenny Reich made the resolution in the commissioners’ Nov. 18 meeting to allow the increase to be used for classroom teachers. The measure passed unanimously.
After the commissioners’ meeting, WCS Director Dr. Donna Wright said, “I hope the voters will pay attention to what this body and the board of education has referenced. That half-cent is specifically earmarked for classroom teacher raises if we are successful.”
The half-cent sales tax increase was on the ballot in 2018 but it was defeated.
After the commission’s November meeting, County Mayor Randall Hutto said that his office had already been working with four groups on potential campaigns to advocate and educate the public on the referendum.
There is some confusion among some commissioners about the definition of classroom teacher. Some said that they believe that classroom teacher only includes the degreed person who teaches subjects at the schools.
That is not the definition according to WCS spokesman Bart Barker who said that the definition of classroom teacher was supplied to Hutto to pass along to the commissioners.
Hutto said the phrase, “classroom teachers,” is “anyone who helps a student, whether it’s a teacher, PE teacher, teacher’s aide or counselor. That’s anyone outside of administration and central office.”
Barker said in an email that “all certified staff, with the exception of assistant principals, principals, coordinators, directors, supervisors, deputy directors and director of schools would receive the raise.”
Commissioner Dan Walker said he agreed with the list of positions which would receive the raise.
“Counselors are degreed staff and work closely together with teachers,” Walker said. “If they are due a raise then they should be included. A pay and compensation study is needed to clearly identify adequate funding for our educational professionals.”