The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education approved new amounts for teacher supplements Tuesday. This comes after district leaders made a $16 million budget calculation error which resulted in lower raises than what was announced in December.
Educators wore red shirts to show solidarity and held signs saying "$how ME the MONEY!" at Tuesday night's packed meeting.
Around 20 people spoke during the public comment period, asking the board to honor its original promise of higher raises. Teachers and school employees shared the challenges they face during the pandemic. Third-grade teacher Nicole Walters expressed how she felt when the initial raises were announced.
“I felt appreciated," says Walters. "I felt I could scale back on my second job and enjoy my time on the weekends with family and friends, but then we got that call about the $16 million dollar error. That weight fell back on me and every bit of faith that I had in this district was crushed.”
District leaders apologized for the error and outlined procedures to ensure it doesn't happen again.
Superintendent Tricia McManus recommended that the new annual teacher supplement be $1,800 — about half of what was originally proposed. Beginning teachers will now see around $6,000, about $2,000 less than before.
McManus also said more bonuses are on the way through the federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) and state funding.
Officials with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools say if additional money becomes available from the state for supplements, it will be used to focus on addressing the concerns of veteran teachers.
Many educators say they would also like to see the district create a group of teachers that the board could consult with about issues they are facing.
Board member Malishai "Shai" Woodbury says the district is planning to hold a legislative conversation with the Forsyth County delegation in March.
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