Dozens of teachers, parents, school staff and supporters gathered in Pack Square Park on Monday, March 20, to demand higher pay for Asheville City and Buncombe County schools employees and deliver a petition to elected officials.
“I can’t worry about little Timmy if I’m worried about $250 for my light bills and making rent,” LaTonya Best, a exceptional-children instructional assistant at Montford North Star Academy, told the crowd.
Brittany Cutshaw, addressing the crowd with her 6-year-old special-needs son, Nicholas Chiah, addressed the effect reduced staffing has on her family’s life.
“Last Wednesday, I got the call that my son couldn’t go to school because there was no nurse available for him, for the 60th time this year,” Cutshaw says. “How long will my employer allow me to keep my job if I keep having to call out to look after my son?”
The rally was organized by two teacher advocacy groups, Asheville City Association of Educators and Buncombe County Association of Educators. Together, these organizations gathered more than 2,000 signatures from teachers, school staff, parents and supporters on a petition asking the two local school boards to increase pay for certified staff by 7% and pay a living wage to all others.
The state sets a base salary for various levels of experience and education, and local districts offer supplemental pay to offset various costs of living in different locales. As previously reported by Xpress, Asheville and Buncombe’s supplemental pay lags behind similar districts around the state while the cost of living is higher. All photos by Greg Parlier