‘I am grateful:’ CMS teachers react to district’s budget including higher pay for teachers, teacher assistants

The total budget is $2.1 billion and includes $332 million in federal COVID-19 funds.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is working to get more money in the pockets of educators and other school staff.
Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 9:24 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Higher salaries and starting pay could be on the way for thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools educators.

On Tuesday, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted 8-0 to approve its 2022-23 operating budget.

The total budget is $2.1 billion and includes $332 million in federal COVID-19 funds. The district is asking the county to contribute $579 million.

The 2022-23 budget aligns the district’s resources with the Board’s priorities as defined in the Goals and Guardrails document in 2021. Some highlights of those alignments are:

· Increasing the local teacher supplement to ensure that CMS students have the best and brightest teachers in the classroom

· Increasing the pay scale for teacher assistants to ensure that students have multiple educators in the classroom

· Additional funding for the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) program, including facilitators and interventionists in schools

· Additional funding to ensure students have access to college and career readiness coursework

· Additional staffing to address students’ social and emotional needs

Deborah Ayers has been a cosmetology teacher with CMS for six years.

The district’s budget includes a 2.7% estimated state salary increase for certified staff including teachers like herself. She says this raise can help with extra expenses as the country continues to experience record-high inflation.

“It helps you and puts you in a position to be able to afford some of the things that are difficult at this time because Charlotte is growing and becoming more expensive, rent is becoming more expensive, groceries are more expensive, so it is in tune for us to be considered for this because life is changing,” Ayers said.

Steve Oreskovic has been with the district for nearly 30 years; he is a middle school social studies teacher and says he’s thankful for the prospect of higher pay.

“It would get us a little bit closer to making ends meet with the current inflation we have now,” Oreskovic said.

The budget outline details the district’s plan to invest $6 million in increasing the starting pay for teacher assistants so their starting pay is in accordance with market rates.

This would boost their starting pay to $16.50.

“It does make a high difference and especially if people want to be there if they feel that they’re compensated fairly for what they’re doing. The kids can tell, the teachers can tell, let’s get these people the money they need let’s get more TAs back in the classrooms,” he said.

Ayers says the district’s effort is a step in the right direction.

“We wish that we could get a 50 percent raise for what we do but we are grateful, I am grateful for the consideration and that somebody notices that we are under other states,” she said. “That’ll make us the highest in the state of North Carolina but where does that still put us in the country?”

Oreskovic says CMS can’t do it alone and that state leaders need to do their part in adjusting pay in the budget.

“It’s not going to be enough until the state does their due diligence and funds education properly.”

CMS is presenting the budget request to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners on May 10.

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