RALEIGH (WTVD) -- All 18,000 Wake County Schools employees will receive pay raises this year.
The school board approved $16 million in salary increases Tuesday, retroactive to July 2015.
Veteran teacher Dianne Jones says she finally feels valued after spending more than 30 years in the classroom and going years without any significant pay raise from the state.
"This is wonderful! We're all so excited," she said. "I feel like they appreciate the jobs that we do. They understand how long we work, the hours that we put in, and that we are professionals and that we deserve a salary much like a professional would get."
Under the new pay schedule, all WCPSS classroom teachers will get a boost in pay from $875 to $3,202 based on experience.
Read more about the teacher pay schedule here
The district will also set aside $1.8 million for teachers who take on extra duties like coaching.
Veteran occupational and physical therapists will receive up to $1,000 more per month, and support staff will get a 3 percent salary hike.
But critics argue the raises reward teachers for the wrong reasons.
"I think it's a bad idea because it primarily just perpetuates the current problems. It ties salary increases to years of experience. It ties it to qualification, not student achievement, which should be the primary reason why teachers should be rewarded. Isn't that the goal of school?" said Bob Luebke, Civitas senior policy analyst.
Luebke believes raises should be based on performance instead of experience, particularly in Wake County where teachers receive a larger pay supplement than other districts across the state.
Mark Jewell, Vice President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, disagrees. He says experience matters, and raises help keep teachers in the classroom.
While he applauds Wake County Schools, he agrees with Luebke on one issue: teacher pay in North Carolina still needs a major overhaul.
"They're picking up where the state has failed," said Jewell.
Jones is looking forward to getting her paycheck. She is still deciding how she will spend the extra cash.
"Something special maybe or just to help pay a bill," she said.
A WCPSS spokesperson said employees can expect to see their raises starting next month.
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Wake County board OKs plan to raise pay for all teachers
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