DPS staff, teachers await next steps in ongoing pay dispute amid 'frustration', 'exhaustion'

Saturday, February 3, 2024
Durham school board tables pay issue until next week
The Durham Board of Education weighed two options on Friday to address the ongoing pay controversy but ultimately made no decision.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Durham Public Schools teachers and staffers gathered again on Friday after what some said was an "emotional rollercoaster," of a week, coming on the heels of Wednesday's rally about an ongoing pay dispute that prompted school closures on Wednesday.

After hours of discussion, the school board tabled the pay issue until next week. The board is expected to revisit the issue Thursday.

"It has been extremely stressful," Greg Stivland said.

Stivland is one of the hundreds of classified employees affected by the pay scale controversy.

WATCH: Classified workers give an earful to Durham school board

The workers said if a permanent solution isn't reached, walkouts and other issues will continue in the Durham school system.

"The options that they put out are not really benefitting staff either way," Stivland said.

ALSO SEE: Board Chair's full statement on Friday's special meeting (.pdf)

The Board of Education weighed the following two options on Friday:

Option 1: Gives all staff at least a 4% raise for state experience only.

Option 2: Implements an 11% salary increase over the 2022-23 compensation for classified employees and restores salary steps for the last school year. Steps are represented by years of experience.

DPS Board of Education Chair Bettina Umstead said in a statement Friday that continuing to pay the rates that were paid to classified employees from July through January is unaffordable.

RELATED: DPS works to correct error after overpaying employees for months

"Let me emphasize: We are not saying our employees are not worth it. You all are the heartbeat of our work. We know our schools can't function without you. Any option we consider today must continue to provide raises for our classified staff," Umstead said.

How we got here: A timeline of DPS' ongoing challenges

The Board asked the administration to bring back options for how to provide its classified staff with pay increases over the amounts paid in 2022-23 that are fair and within the school system's current financial resources, according to the statement on Friday.

"As a therapist, one of the, one of the things that we do is is build a trustful relationship with the families and the kids that we work with," Stivland said. "It's really hard on people who do this kind of work to have to take a day off of work to go and march ... and feel like we're not doing, what we want to be doing and help the people that we work with."