Some Morgan County school system employees might make more money working in fast food restaurants than working as paraprofessionals, bus drivers or cafeteria helpers.
A local woman is asking the Morgan County Board of Education (BOE) to advocate for higher salaries for classified positions in the school system, arguing that the current pay scale is an unlivable salary.
Dr Claudia Crenshaw, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who lives in Buckhead, appeared before the BOE on Monday night to argue that some school system workers are being paid too little and are in desperate need of a raise.
“The starting salary for a paraprofessional is only $9.14 an hour,” Crenshaw said. “Arby’s has a sign offering new hires $13 an hour.”
Crenshaw also noted that fast food restaurants like Wendy’s and McDonalds pay higher hourly wages, up to $15 an hour, than what is offered to paraprofessionals and other school system employees for classified positions.
“Anyone who works in the school system is an important part of our community and the salary should reflect that,” Crenshaw told the BOE. “I don’t think the people of the county have any idea that these are the types of salaries we offer our ranked people…I wanted to be the person to bang on the drum to help spread the word about this topic.”
In an interview with the Morgan County Citizen, Crenshaw said she would like to see starting salaries for classified positions increase by 50%.
“I would like to see at least $15 an hour,” Crenshaw said. “There are people who want to work in our school system and live in our community, but cannot afford to work here or live here. It’s just not fair.
Crenshaw noted that paraprofessionals, who serve as teaching aides in the classroom, have the lowest starting salaries of any graded position in the school system.
“That’s not a living wage for someone with a paraprofessional’s responsibility to the children, families and professionals in Morgan County,” Crenshaw said in a letter to the BOE. “I have attached the classified salary grid along with the job description for a paraprofessional, the only classified salary grid position that is equipped to run a classroom for a female teacher when she is out of the room.”
Crenshaw acknowledged that since the BOE approved the new budget at Monday night’s meeting, pay rises could not materialize this year, but she was hopeful action would be taken in the future.
“I know the budget is set for the upcoming academic year, but I would like to ask the board to look at classified salaries, especially paraprofessionals, and ask the county commission to budget to pay these employees a salary. fair, so they can afford to continue to live and work here in Morgan County,” Crenshaw said.
“Our county is unique to Georgia in many ways, including our progressiveness in our history. I love the rural setting and the charter school gem in Morgan County. I know we can advance wages and more than anything, it can involve educating the citizens of Morgan County, because my experience in Morgan County has always been to do the right thing.
BOE chairman Andy Ainslie III has tasked two board members with looking for possible future pay rises.
“We appreciate you bringing this to us,” Ainslie told Crenshaw. “I would instruct our budget committee [BOE Members Brad Hawk and Dr. Forest Padgett]. We are always looking to ensure that we take care of our employees. There will be nothing for this year, but I am counting on you, so that you can all evaluate this.