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New Hanover Co. school board approves pay increase for themselves

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The pockets of New Hanover County School Board members got a little bit deeper Tuesday night. The board approved raises for every member.

The board voted 6 to 1 in favor of a nearly 9 percent pay increase. While some say this is simply pay back for what the board gave up three years ago, others say the decision is just plain wrong.

“It's not fair and it's not the right thing to do,” says Carol Murray, who spoke out the board against the raises. “I wasn't surprised because I expected the board to be greedy and give themselves that big raise.”

The board originally cut the 8.7 percent in 2009 when teachers’ pay was cut by one percent. This fall, teachers received a 1.2 percent pay raise, with the understanding that the board's salary would be restored.

Derrick Hickey, who was the only board member to vote against the increase, says finances will not look brighter any time soon and the board should be capable of doing more with less.

“It's not about the money,” Hickey says. “It's about the message that we're sending to our teachers and our students.”

However, board chairman Don Hayes says the raise should have already been established by the budget committee months ago and says it was an oversight.

“No one got upset when we cut it, that eight point something percent, and times were a lot tougher than they are now,” Hayes says.

The increase comes out to about a $1,000 increase. It is expected to go into effect in either December or January.

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