CMS teachers address county commissioners over pay, other issues

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) teachers say they are ready to advocate for better pay and more resources for their students. Teachers say they marched in Raleigh in May, now they want to turn their attention to Mecklenburg County Commissioners.

"We've now said hey Raleigh matters a whole lot but so does the county commission," CMS educator Kevin Poirier said.

Teachers want commissioners to fully fund CMS. The school district requested nearly $40 million more from the county than it got last year. The county manager only recommended about $24 million more.

The county manager didn't include funding for some items teachers say they need to improve their working conditions. Items not included in the manager's budget are more money to hire English Language teachers, more money to expand Avid - a program for underrepresented schools to better prepare them for college- more money to fund a cultural proficiency program for teachers and a raise in the county's local teacher supplement.

CMS was requesting a 7 percent raise. Teachers say that increase hasn't increased in about 10 years.

"Sometimes we are taken for granted." CMS teacher Jahara Davis said.

Each year the county adds extra to a teacher's paycheck to attract the best teachers to Mecklenburg County. On the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators (CMAE) Facebook page it showed more than 100 teachers were going to show up at the commissioners public hearing on the budget. More than 400 said they were interested in attending.

"It's now time for teachers to be angry and say to their county commissioners you are using my taxes to give everybody else around me a raise - it's time that you use my taxes to help us," CMAE President Erlene Lyde said.

Teachers say the proposed increase in the county teacher supplement wouldn't amount to much. They say it's not the amount but the principle.

"I don't care if it's a cent," Davis said. "I deserve the cent."

It is now up to county commissioners to determine if they will agree with the county manager or give teachers a raise. They will discuss their budget soon.

"Many commissioners say that they would support an increase in the teacher supplement and I expect they will do that - now the question is what is the amount going to be," County Commissioner Trevor Fuller said.

Teachers say they are not giving up their fight. They say showing up at the public hearing is just the beginning to bring about change in their workplace. They believe their voices will make a change sooner or later.

"Even if that message isn't heard it will be heard in the next election cycle because more and more people will come out saying we want to do better by the children and teachers in Mecklenburg county,"  Lyde said.

Many people signed up to address county commissioners and several of them are teachers.

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