Cobb County’s 17,907 teachers and staff members could receive pay raises as high as 12% this year — an increase school officals called “historic.”
Superintendent Chris Ragsdale on Wednesday unveiled his proposed $1.1 billion budget for fiscal year 2020 which, if approved by school board members, includes an 8 to 12% raise for every non-temporary employee in the district.
The current starting pay for Cobb County School District teachers is $43,465, and can go as high as $91,000 for educators with doctorate degrees and decades of experience, according to district documents.
If the board adopts the budget, every teacher, custodian bus driver and food service worker will “see a raise unlike any in Cobb in at least 25 years,” the district said. Substitute teachers would also be included in the proposal, even though they are temporary employees.
Ragsdale said the district’s pay bump is made possible by Gov. Brian Kemp’s across-the-board $3,000 raise for certified teachers, as well as the school board’s “responsible financial management, common-sense planning, and some of the lowest central administrative costs in the state.”
The district said its administrative costs are $162 per student, which is $53 below the state average. The school district has an enrollment of roughly 112,000 students.
“Our dedicated staff members have proven their commitment to the success of our students and schools, and now, in a way that we have never been able to before, I’m recommending a budget which prioritizes our staff in a historic way,” he said. “To all the teachers who make Cobb home, this proposed budget is another reason why Cobb is the best place to teach, lead, and learn.”
The news was greeted with positive reactions at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Connie Jackson, a teacher entering her 10th year with Cobb County schools, said news of the raises is a “welcome relief” for everyone, including substitutes and school nurses.
“We’ve always led in so many ways and this one, this one is great,” she said about the school system.
De’Anna Harris, the Atlanta area manager for Educators First, a bipartisan association that focuses on education matters in Georgia, added she believes Cobb County is “leading the standards” for teacher retention. She also praised Kemp’s leadership, as well as Board Chairman David Chastain and Ragsdale for their financial planning.
The budget anticipates a 5.5% growth in the county’s tax digest, which could add $30 million in property tax revenue to the system, officials said. The proposed budget calls for holding the 18.9 millage rate steady, but if property values increase, property tax bills will too.
The budget also accounts for 90 more classroom positions and an additional 7.5 custodial positions. It would also give nurses incremental raises every two years, adjust bus driver salaries so that their base pay is spread equally throughout the year and gives campus police officers a competitive salary adjustment.
The Cobb school board tentatively approved the budget, which allows the system to move forward with advertising the document for public comment. Final approval is scheduled in May and, if approved, the raises will go into effect July 1, which is the start of the new fiscal year.
The Professional Association of Georgia Educators said it was “pleased’ to learn of the district’s plans for pay raises.
“Quality education is vital to Georgia’s future, and competitive salaries are essential to the recruitment and retention of excellent educators and support personnel,” said spokeswoman Ramona Mills. “On behalf of our 95,000 members – and all teachers, administrators, and school staff throughout the state – PAGE commends Cobb County schools for this bold action. We encourage all Georgia districts to fully incorporate Gov. Kemp’s $3,000 state certified educator salary increase into FY20 budgets, and also to consider adding locally funded increases for non-certified staff.”
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