“If I don’t have the resources I need, I can’t do [the kids] justice. It’s impossible. I’ve tried to twist myself and do educational yoga for the last 20 years. And I can only do it so much longer,” says Matthew Leggat, a sixth-grade teacher at Montford North Star Academy.
More than 20 teachers, staff members and parents spoke during the three-plus hour meeting in the Minitorium at 175 Bingham Rd., advocating for higher pay for all school employees in front of a crowd that at one point overflowed into an adjacent room with a live stream of the meeting.
The Asheville City Board of Education approved budget recommendations that include a 7% increase to each pay level for certified staff, which include teachers, and starting pay for all hourly employees, including bus drivers and custodial workers, to $20 per hour.
“It is embarrassing how low teacher pay is in North Carolina and especially Asheville with the higher cost of living.”
“The bottom line is: Without higher salaries for educators, not only will our students suffer, but so will the entire community.”
“We have to value our teachers who are tired, underpaid and caught in the crosshairs of a contentious cultural and political climate.”
“Neither of my parents ever complained about the low pay; they just loved their work and were not doing it for money.”
Goals and priorities emerged when the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners held its retreat on Friday, Feb. 17. Among priorities are continuing to increase teacher pay while looking at expanding access to preschool across the county.
“Our teachers should make enough money to afford a decent place to live on their own and shouldn’t be charity cases reliant upon nonprofits to make ends meet. “