Durham educators' advocacy group pushes for better pay as Durham Public Schools proposes next budget

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Thursday, April 18, 2024
Durham Public Schools proposes budget for next school year
Durham interim superintendent Catty Moore laid out the plans for the next school year in a proposed budget that asks for $26 million.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham interim superintendent Catty Moore laid out the plans for the next school year in a proposed budget that asks for $26 million from Durham County Commissioners.

"This proposal prioritizes compensation," Moore said.

The proposed budget presented to the Durham Public Schools Board of Education on April 11 includes an $8.8 million toward classified staff salary increases, which the Durham Association of Educators said is a "huge step towards undoing the pay cuts that went into effect in March."

For months, hundreds of DPS workers participated in sickouts and pickets calling for better pay after a financial error changed their paychecks.

"It's tiring and overall, I feel worn down," Christie Clem, a physical therapist, said. "We still have no idea what our paychecks will look like next year."

SEE ALSO | Documents reveal when Durham Public Schools knew of problems with salary study, budget

While DAE president Symone Kiddoo praised Moore and the board for addressing some of the district's needs, more work needs to be done in addressing some other priorities, such as a $1/hour across the board raise for bus drivers and monitors, which is not included in the current proposal.

"Right now, our drivers are lagging behind city bus drivers, and we want to stay competitive," Kiddoo said.

The proposal also leaves out a specific supplement for exceptional children staff, which Christy Patterson said is one of the most demanding jobs.

"As a teacher, yes. I teach them. I love that, but I'm their case manager...bringing the home and the school together. So it is not always easy," Patterson said.

The Exceptional Children teacher, who also works four other jobs, said the supplement could go a long way.

"That supplement would mean $200 a month, and that would mean me being able to buy more snacks for my (classroom) kids for those that come to school and they're hungry," Patterson said. "To be able to buy water and things that they need to go to their field trips."

Kiddoo said she's interested in how the board will respond to some of their priorities on Thursday during the budget hearing, as DPS balances that and the ongoing search for a new superintendent.

A third party search firm is leading the efforts, with the proposed timeline aiming to confirm a selected candidate by late June to early July.

"This hire is one of the most important things that we do as a board and we need to make sure that our students and the educators in this community are centered in everything we do," Board Chair Bettina Umstead said.