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Buncombe County commissioners aim to increase teacher pay

The pay bump would come from a 1 cent property tax increase per $100 of assessed value.

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Asheville High School is one of the two secondary schools part of the Asheville City School system.

Photo by Warren LeMay

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At its June 20 meeting, Buncombe County Commissioners approved a 1 cent increase on property tax per $100 of assessed value that will largely be dedicated to education. Commissioners shared that the tax increase will be used to provide salary increases for Buncombe County and Asheville City school teachers. But in order for the salary bump to take effect, the state’s budget must be approved.

Time for a lesson

When it comes to starting salary, NC offers some of the lowest teacher pay in the US, ranking at no. 46 according to the National Education Association. Local teachers, parents, and supporters have been advocating for salary increases at board meetings as well as through community rallies.

What teachers want

Buncombe County Schools (BCS) requested $115.8 million from the 2024 fiscal budget, while Asheville City Schools (ACS) requested $20 million. ACS also asked for the salary for classified employees to be raised from $15 per hour to $20 per hour.

What teachers got

The county’s fiscal year 2024 budget offers $102.8 million in funding to Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools, with $86.6 million allocated to BCS and $16.1 million allocated to ACS.

What’s next?

Buncombe County will have to wait until the state budget is passed to be able to allocate education funding. “We don’t take raising the tax rate lightly. Those additional revenues need to go to teacher pay,” shares Commission Chair Brownie Newman. “We need to know what that number is because we are committed to providing the same pay raise for locally funded positions that start employees will get. And it’s not just about how much funding school districts get; it’s about prioritizing how the funds are used.”