Feb 8, 2024 - News

Durham Public Schools employees will keep pay raises for one more month

Illustration of an eaten apple with a skin made of a dollar bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Durham Public Schools' Board of Education is buying itself more time to solve a wage dispute — but will still be forced to close its schools on Friday as it contends with an "overwhelming number of staff absences."

Why it matters: If DPS had not agreed to a stop gap solution at its Thursday meeting, classified workers were set to see their salaries revert to pre-raise levels in their February paychecks.

  • The school board said it will reconsider its options at its Feb. 22 meeting.

Driving the news: The school system will tap into its financial reserves to keep pay for classified workers untouched for one more month.

  • It's a move the board hopes will calm unrest as it tries to find a long-term solution to overpaying more than a thousand workers due to internal errors.
  • Of note: The Durham Association of Educators, a labor union for school workers, said in an Instagram post that it did not call for a protest on Friday and that it did "not know why district administration has decided to close schools for students."

Catch up quick: The Durham school system has been in disarray since January, when it told its classified workers — a group of around 1,300 people that includes cafeteria workers, nurses and therapists but not teachers and bus drivers — that salary raises that had been given in October were in error and needed to be eliminated.

  • The move angered workers — who had made life choices around the pay increase — and led to schools being closed after worker walk outs and threats of widespread quitting.
  • Both DPS' superintendent and chief financial officer resigned in response to the crisis.

What happened: In an internal report released Wednesday — the first actual accounting of what led to the pay error — the DPS board revealed that its chief financial officer knew since last February that the $10.8 million allocated for pay raises was not enough if they were based on total years of service.

  • However, CFO Paul LeSieur, who resigned last month, did not communicate that to the board that the raises would actually cost around $20 million.
  • The board approved the raises in October without knowing that information.
  • DPS superintendent Pascal Mubenga discovered the error a month later, but then did not communicate that DPS could not afford the raises until January.

State of play: At the Thursday meeting, DPS also appointed Catty Quiroz Moore, previously the superintendent for Wake County Public School System, as its interim superintendent to replace Mubenga.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Raleigh.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Raleigh stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Raleigh.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more