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$500 raise a “slap in the face” for school bus drivers, teacher assistants and other public school employees

Bettina Vinson has driven a school bus in Wake County for 17 years, and when she learned that after years of frozen pay she would receive a $500 raise according to the budget proposal state legislators are debating now in Raleigh, she was shocked.

“It was like a slap in the face,” said Vinson.

Lawmakers have included in their 2014 budget proposal a $1,000 raise for most public employees, but non-teaching public school workers – teacher assistants, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and other non-certified and central office staff—will only see a $500 salary increase, if lawmakers pass the budget as it is currently written.

“Why are the N.C. State bus drivers, who are doing the same job and are driving older kids who are easier to manage getting a $1,000 pay raise when we’re driving small kids and doing the same work they are doing and getting $500?” said Vinson.

“I think it’s wrong because what people are not realizing is that we are the first ones that these children see in the morning,” said Vinson. “And we set the tone for the teachers. Sometimes you have kids who’ve had nothing to eat, and I buy food to keep on the bus because you know the ones who get on the bus without breakfast or supper the night before, and so I feed them.”

So far, not one lawmaker who has had a hand in crafting the budget proposal has explained why public school employees are getting the shaft.

“There is no rational reason you can tell me why a school maintenance worker gets $500 and another public employee gets $1,000,” said Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland). “Try it.”

Vinson explained the personal struggles that many public school workers face as the cost of living has gone up and salaries have stagnated.

“I figure I make about half of what I started out with when you think about the cost of living and the frozen pay,” said Vinson. “But these bus drivers with young families … it puts them on borderline poverty. You make too much to get any government assistance, but you make too little money to provide adequately for your family.”

Bus drivers, custodians, teacher assistants, and other public school employees have been meeting with legislators since March, said Brian Lewis, a lobbyist for Teamsters Local 391, which represents school bus drivers seeking better pay and working conditions.

“We were disappointed when we learned the House conceded to the Senate plan on differentiating pay for state employees who work in the public schools versus rank-and-file state employees,” said Lewis. “Our members have been calling legislators and Governor McCrory since Tuesday requesting that the budget be fixed.”

Diethea Williams is a teacher assistant in Guilford County who also called the $500 pay raise a slap in the face.

“How can Governor McCrory’s custodian at his executive mansion get a $1,000 raise, yet a custodian at a school, who does the exact same job get half of that?,” said Williams, who works with students with special needs.

“The Governor needs to veto this bill,” concluded Williams.

16 Comments

  1. Alex

    August 1, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I wonder what they thought when they received no raises during the previous Democratic administration.

  2. Alan

    August 1, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Probably much the same.

  3. Anonymous

    August 1, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    I would rather think it’s like “spitting” in my face (since I am a Teacher Assistant), rather than a slap in the face. Legislators should be ashamed of theirselves!

  4. Cynthia Schley

    August 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    God help us!!! Allow these people’s eyes to be opened

  5. Cynthia Schley

    August 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    Sick of the crap, all the way round, no raises in over six years, 500 slap in the face governor whats his name, thats how much l think of him, nameless. Not money during the summer, we are forced to wave our rights at the end of the school year by signing documents that dont allow us to get unemployment benefits during the summer months, so from july to October most employees have little or no real resources. Give me break.

  6. Teacher assistant

    August 1, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I am a teacher assistant and I have not got a raise in years. I have two associate degrees and 2 years of college and can not continue because I can’t afford my loans. Not only that but I have a few children that I take care of. Bringing home 17,000 a year for what I do for these children every single day is heartbreaking. Not only do we help these children with their schooling but I also go above and beyond to make sure a lot of these children that attend school have clothes that fit them, shoes they can wear and provide food because they come to school hungrey. The reason I keep doing what I do is because every day I know in my heart I have touched a child’s life. I wish the state would acknowledge teacher assistants because we go above and beyond what is expected. It’s just heartbreaking that other state employees will get 1,000 raise and five bonus days. Where I struggling to provide for my family with the raising costs of food, electric, and everything else.

  7. Pertains!

    August 2, 2014 at 7:49 am

  8. Tami

    August 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

    A $500 pay raise is better than the $480 decrease I was getting this year. As long as I break even…..I’m good!

  9. Angel

    August 2, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    They are some sick GOP’s?? We must VOTE?? They care NOTHING for other workers in schools??

  10. ncsense

    August 2, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Alex — It’s just possible that these employees are capable of distinguishing between budget decisions made of necessity during an international financial crisis and budget decisions made by choice. The choice being tax cuts over funding basic state infrastructure — both social infrastructure (like school employees) and the brick and mortar kind.

  11. Pertains!

    August 4, 2014 at 3:02 am

    How did they justify taking longevity away from those employed under “education” when all other state employees kept their longevity? You cannot believe taking longevity and putting those monies toward the “raises” that the inexperienced teachers are receiving is going to make the masses happy.
    Is this any way to treat the ones that have worked 20-30 years?

  12. Alex

    August 4, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Exactly my point NCSENSE ! Democrats with the full tax revenues prior to the tax cut “chose” not to give either group a pay raise, and instead funded their pet projects. In addition, they ran up a $2.5 Billion Unemployment tab which luckily Republicans have been able to pay off in record time saving the state a huge amount. of interest cost

  13. Alan

    August 4, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Alex, I assume by “pet projects”, you mean running state government? Looks like you’re turning into a full-time blogger for Team Civitas?

  14. markeita

    August 12, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    My shout out is to the bus drivers and all the other employees that this affects. Are you ready now to take a stand together as one? We have families and bills that we have to pay as well and to continue not to be treated fairly has gone on long enough ..it’s time to speak and stand together as one …In JESUS Name

  15. jane

    August 12, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    All state employees whether certified or not should receive the same bonus increase. Are those other state employees certified who are receiving the $1000 bonus? How can we afford to support our own families and not be forced to take second jobs. If people think teachers don’t make enough money they would be surprised to know that non certified staff make about a third of a teacher’s salary. Non certified staff are also responsible for the same number of students as teachers and in some positions they are responsible for even more students such as the lunch room staff and the custodians.

  16. state employee

    August 14, 2014 at 11:36 am

    So teachers will receive $500 or more a month salary increase and all other non certified school staff will receive a one time gift of $500? All state employees are trying to deal with the cost of living increase not just the certified employees.