Pay hike approved at Jackson County schools

There were plenty of smiles at Jackson County schools after word spread about a payraise for non-certified staff members.
There were plenty of smiles at Jackson County schools after word spread about a payraise for non-certified staff members.

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Receptionists and custodians are among the employees in the Jackson County School District who will be taking home bigger paychecks. On Monday night, the Jackson County School Board approved a $75 million budget. That budget included a two-percent pay raise for hundreds of non-certified employees.

Shy Galloway is a first grade teacher at St. Martin North Elementary. Like other licensed K-12 teachers across Mississippi, she will be getting a salary boost: $1,500 this year and another $1,000 next year.

"I'm really grateful for the increase. I feel like it's going to help us as a district and the state to compete in recruiting and retaining teachers," said Galloway.

But Galloway's teacher assistant, Barbara Fuller, will not get a larger paycheck. That's because the pay raise plan passed by state lawmakers earlier this year does not apply to non-certified staff.

"We were a little insulted. We felt like we deserve a pay raise too. We help with teaching the students and help the teachers," said Fuller.

"It kind of hurts your feelings, because you feel like you're working pretty hard all day too. You deserve the same kind of thing too, because they kind of depend on me," said St. Martin North receptionist Tammy Ware.

So on Monday night, the Jackson County School Board passed a two-percent pay raise for about 400 non-certified employees in the district. It will be their first pay hike since 2007.

"I thought it was great. Any pay raise is great. It helps with the bills, but mainly it shows that you're appreciated," said Fuller. "We can all use it. With the cost of living going up, it's great!"

That two-percent will mean several hundred dollars more a year for employees like teachers' assistants, office staff, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers.

"Well, it makes you feel like, yeah, somebody appreciates us. Somebody does notice we're here. I'm way down at the bottom. Nobody really notices that I do anything, but when that phone rings they know I'm here," said Ware.

English Language Learners tutor Misty Santa Cruz already knows where her extra money will go. "I was excited to hear that. I have three children. One's in college so that two percent is going straight to college. And I have a 15 year old who's driving, so boy, car insurance. It's gone already," she said.

The employees will start seeing fatter paychecks at the end of the month.

"Every little bit helps. It's not as much as the teachers', but still, it makes us feel like we're appreciated. I'm looking forward to it. I can't wait to see how much it's going to be exactly," said Santa Cruz.

Superintendent Dr. Barry Amacker told WLOX News the school board was able to adjust the budget and set aside $200,000 for the two-percent raise. If funding is available next year, he plans to ask for another two-percent raise for non-certified staff.

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.