Loudon County Board of Education on Thursday gave the green light to cost-of-living raises for teachers.

Board members Kenny Ridings and Brian Brown motioned and seconded, respectively, for a 2% raise retroactive to July 1. The vote passed 10-0 in favor.

Raises amount to about $525,000.

“We weren’t able to give teachers raises last year, we weren’t able to give them raises this year, so this would have been the second year without raises,” Michael Garren, county director of schools, said. “They’re working harder than they’ve ever worked. They’re putting in more hours. They’re really going above and beyond. For the board to be able to recognize their efforts and for us to be able to have the funding to achieve that, I think that’s going to be a phenomenal morale booster for the teachers and staff. I think it’s well deserved.”

Teachers can expect the raise in December after Loudon County Commission approves the budget amendment at its Nov. 2 meeting, Garren said.

“It’s huge,” Bobby Johnson Jr., school board member, said. “With everything going on, for our staff and our teachers and everybody, they’ve been on the front line working really hard. A lot of the stuff they’ve had to adjust to with the COVID, nobody understands how much trouble it was every day where it’s online or kids coming to school. They deserved it.”

Johnson thanked Garren for working with Loudon County Commission.

“The leadership and attitude that he has, it trickles down to all his staff and across the whole school system is this blue-collar attitude,” Zack Cusick, school board member, said. “Coming in to work hard and just be honest with people. They’ve seen that, and that kind of builds a strong rapport with them even this early in his superintendent (time), but he’s been doing a great job. They see that, and they’re willing to work with him. Like we said earlier, it’s just a complete transparency in, ‘Hey, these are our numbers. This is what we’re asking for’.”