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Gwinnett teachers, bus drivers expected to get raises

SUWANEE — Gwinnett teachers received a morale boost on Thursday afternoon as Gwinnett County Board of Education members announced that Gwinnett County Public Schools employees are expected to receive their first pay raise in six years.

The cost-of-living raise, which is expected to be between 1.8 percent and two percent, was annouced during meetings between School Board members and members of the Teachers’ Advisory Council, which is made up of representatives from each local school. The district also announced the first Step increase, which is the scale to which teachers are paid based on experience, since fiscal year 2010.

The raises are triggered by the state expecting to fund $314 million more into the Quality Basic Education formula, which is the state’s education funding formula. GCPS is expected to receive $31 million.

“I can assure you we’re going to use 100 percent of that money for compensation and benefits,” CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said Thursday.

Bus drivers could also receive a raise of $1.25 per hour under the plans expected to be proposed, and the district is expected to hire the remaining nine School Resource Officers under a plan to hire 18 SROs — one for each cluster — that was first announced last year.

School Board member Carole Boyce said morale was a concern for teachers in her district, following the rising cost of healthcare and larger class sizes, and the pay raise was welcome news.

“When we look at all of the things that are going on, it was really an exciting thing,” Boyce said.

Added School Board member Mary Kay Murphy, “Our teachers are professionals, and the more we’re able to show our appreciation, the better chance we have in retaining our teachers.”

Teachers who earned advanced degrees since the previous Step increase would also receive a retroactive increase, Wilbanks said.

These figures are expected to be recommended by Wilbanks to the BOE this spring before final adoption of a millage rate is set in June.

An adoption of a tentative budget is scheduled for April 15 before an area board meeting at Shiloh High School. The first area board meeting where Wilbanks is likely to discuss these figures is scheduled for Tuesday night at Grayson High School.

The first public hearing on the fiscal year 2015 budget is scheduled for May 8.

A final budget adoption and adoption of a tentative millage rate is scheduled for May 15.