CMS requests more money from county for teacher raises

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) presented its total $1.6 billion budget before county commissioners Thursday afternoon.

CMS is requesting about $40 million more from the county than the school district got last year, taking the total request to nearly $469 million. The money would go toward safer schools, more social workers, and a teacher raise.

The district wants the county to specifically give CMS $6.9 million to fund a teacher raise. The county gives CMS teachers more money as an incentive to work in Mecklenburg County. CMS says that supplement hasn't increased since 2012.

"With Mecklenburg being one of the richest counties in this state, we should be competing much greater," Char-Meck Association of Education President Erlene Lyde said.

When it comes to teacher supplements, Mecklenburg County is behind some districts that are smaller than CMS.

"That's why we are losing teachers to other parts, to those counties," Lyde said.

A teacher with ten years' experience gets about $6,000 from the county on top of what the state pays the teacher. CMS wants a 7% increase. If approved, that means a teacher with ten years' experience gets $426.30 extra a year, or $1.98 more per work day.

"Peanuts - and that doesn't show any appreciation," Lyde said.

Lyde now wants the county to go above and give teachers a 14% raise in their teacher supplement. Commissioner Pat Cotham says the county has to pay for other services. She's not sure about a 17% raise but is open to CMS' request of a 7% raise.

"Ask for what you want," Cotham said, "and negotiate for what you can get."

Commissioner Jim Puckett has another idea. He believes granting raises is not his job function.

"My job is to make sure the county manager keeps our employees happy," Puckett said. "It's the superintendent's job to keep his employees happy."

Puckett wants to just give CMS about 50% of the county's budget and let the school district figure out what to do with the money. He says the district can use it for raises, security, or more social workers.

"I don't need to micromanage their budget," Puckett said. "If I did, I would go back on the board of education."

The local teachers' association says it will contact county commissioners to convince them to increase the county supplement.

Commissioners vote on their budget in June.

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