Opposition is building against a ballot measure to double the number of years Mecklenburg County commissioners serve on the board.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators wants voters to reject the proposal because “we believe we need a shorter time period to hold (commissioners) accountable for the promises they made on the campaign trail.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Rhonda Lennon on Facebook urged constituents to vote against the term extension.
If any elected official tells me that … getting re-elected is a huge focus, then they’re really not serving for the right reason.
Rhonda Lennon, CMS school board, District 1
“I think they need to be accountable to the taxpayers every two years,” Lennon said Tuesday.
Voters on Tuesday will decide whether to change the structure of the nine-member board so its members serve four-year terms instead of two. Early voting runs through Saturday. Commissioners voted 7-2 in July to put the question on the ballot.
This county commission is not really CMS-friendly, or education-friendly, or teacher-friendly.
Erlene Lyde, CMAE president
“If they’re there for four years, that means no changes can be made for four years,” said Erlene Lyde, a chemistry teacher at West Charlotte High School and CMAE’s president. “This county commission is not really CMS-friendly, or education-friendly, or teacher-friendly.”
Lyde feels the board has failed to make strides to retain teachers because it hasn’t raised the local supplement to teacher pay. She pointed to Wake County’s commissioners, who last week approved a $16 million supplement to fund teacher salary boosts.
Mecklenburg gives county-funded teachers pay raises that match what the state legislature gives to state-funded teachers, including what lawmakers approved last month: a one-time $750 bonus for teachers, and increasing starting pay for new teachers to $35,000.
County commissioners supplement teacher pay to keep salaries competitive with other school districts. That supplement has gone unchanged for several years.
CMAE is disappointed with commissioners it endorsed last election, including board Chairman Trevor Fuller and Democratic commissioners Vilma Leake and Ella Scarborough, Lyde said, adding “their actions … don’t say that they’re education-friendly.”
Tell them to read the minutes, come to the meetings and to call me.
Mecklenburg County commissioner Vilma Leake
Fuller, Leake and Scarborough said they were unaware of CMAE’s gripes before the Observer contacted them.
“They certainly have not asked me how I have voted for them and supported the things they’ve done,” Scarborough said.
Leake said she was “shocked” and “appalled” that CMAE would criticize her when she’s “one of their greatest supporters.”
“I’m the person who always lifts up the supplement for teachers,” she said. “Tell them to read the minutes, come to the meetings and to call me.”
Added Fuller: “We spend over half of our budget on education-related items. I would look at the results of what we’ve done rather than get caught up in the politics of who’s doing what.”