By Nikki Gaskins
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- There is some big news for Charleston County teachers. On Monday, school board members voted 6-2 to approve first reading of next year's budget that includes a pay increase for district workers.
The budget includes a general operating fund of more than $357 million. This is a 6.9 percent increase from the previous year.
"I'm very pleased with the way that it passed," said Patrick Hayes, a fourth grade teacher at Drayton Hall Elementary.
Hayes, an educator behind the organization Restore Teacher Salaries, says for the past three years educators have gone without a pay raise. That could soon change.
"It's going to be that much easier to come in every day and give your best which is what we all want to do," Hayes said.
The proposed budget calls for workers to receive a two percent cost of living increase. Salaried employees would receive a 2-step pay increase in addition to the cost of living increase. Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley has pushed for the raises for quite some time.
"We are in a competition for human talent, and we want to recognize and reward our teachers and employees," she said.
Board members Elizabeth Kandrac and Elizabeth Moffly voted against the budget Monday.
"We have a top heavy administration," said Moffly. "They want to increase revenues to pay for more employees, and I think we have plenty of administration employees and we need to have an effective teacher in every classroom."
Despite concerns from some board members, teachers like Hayes are keeping their fingers crossed that the vote from the budget's final reading swings in their favor.
"They're making a commitment to us and that means a lot," said Hayes.
Superintendent McGinley hopes to finalize the budget by June 18th.