NHC Commissioners hear from Superintendent Foust, teachers assistants before passing FY2023 budget
At Monday night’s New Hanover Board of Commissioners meeting, a lengthy public comment period was held before officials approved their $508 million budget for fiscal year 2023.
At Monday’s meeting, the public was encouraged to speak up and give their opinions on the proposed budget.
New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust was first up to the podium.
Speaking for more than the allotted time, Foust said that without an additional $12 million from the county the school district would need to cut 230 positions, including over 50 current employees, in order to raise staff pay.
Commissioner Jonathan Barfield was quick to clarify that the board of commissioners has no say over what the money they give to the school district gets appropriated for, adding that policy decisions on things like funding specifics and staffing decisions rest in the hands of the publicly elected officials of the school board.
After Foust, a string of teachers and teachers’ assistants (TAs) came forward. All of them had the same ask: to approve the school district’s $12 million dollar request, which would allow raises to $17 an hour for classified staff — without cutting positions.
The issue of pay, especially for teachers’ assistants, in New Hanover County has been a serious concern for staff in the district, which is struggling with recruiting and retaining employees.
One TA with Winter Park Elementary, David Cantwell, compared his 14 years working as a TA in Durham to his time now with New Hanover County.
“When I moved back I was excited because New Hanover County proudly proclaims it pays teachers much better than any other North Carolina county. And so I mistakenly thought that meant the county would pay its TAs well or fairly. But unfortunately it does neither," he said.