Board members heard a lot of support from teachers on the move. One of the teachers who spoke has to work several other jobs to survive.
"We're not just teachers," said Wake Forest Middle School teacher Joshua Gallagher. "We're doing a lot of different things to make it happen for our own families at home as well."
Gallagher represents the new reality in Wake County classrooms.
"There's not much motivation to stay when I'm working two part-time jobs," said Gallagher.
Gallagher told the school board that he'd normally be at one of his other jobs as a janitor to make up for lost pay raises in recent years.
"When its 10:30 at night and I'm scrubbing a toilet or cleaning a urinal, I start to think maybe I can do something else, and maybe I can make some more money," said Gallagher.
More than a dozen speakers echoed that same message.
Board members say next year's $1.8 billion budget proposal for the state's largest school system is the first step to a fix. It offers a 3.5 percent raise for all staff on top of an expected 2.5 percent statewide teacher pay hike.
To reinforce the message, the school board voted to spend an extra $900,000 from the system's fund balance to give special education, math, science and certain specialty teachers signing bonuses.
"The turnover, the pay, the policy, the law -- that all affects our workforce, which affects student achievement," said Wake Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Merrill.
In all, the budget represents a $39 million increase from last year's spending.
The board and the superintendent have until May 15 to decide if they want to make any changes before sending it to county commissioners.