Voters will decide whether to fund teacher raises in November - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Voters will decide whether to fund teacher raises in November

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Mecklenburg County commissioners voted Tuesday night to put a referendum on the November ballot that would raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent to help pay for teacher raises and other education expenses.

If the referendum passes in November, it could mean that about 80 percent of nearly $34 million would go directly to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, unless commissioners decide to change the tax rate.

Earlier in the evening, commissioners passed a $1.5 billion budget, one that did not include guaranteed money for teacher raises.

"You can't build Charlotte without a strong educational system," Whitewater Academy teacher Paula Owens said. "It's important that we get together and get the support we need. Not just for ourselves. Our students and just our community."

Commissioners may still be able to give teachers a raise without a November vote, but that money is contingent upon how state lawmakers vote in Raleigh.

Whitewater Academy principal Beth Thompson says she hopes lawmakers make the right decision.

"We're not talking about a labor force that's in this for the money by any stretch of the imagination. They continue to give their hearts and souls," Thompson told WBTV.

Teachers like Paula Owens insist the fight will continue, and that funding teacher raises through a sales tax is a good idea.

"People have to live," she said.

County officials say if the referendum passes in November, teachers won't see any pay increases until at least July 1, 2015.

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