Education

Almost 4,000 CMS employees on track to get January merit bonuses, courtesy of NC

Merit bonuses for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cafeteria staff and other non-teacher employees are on Tuesday’s agenda.
Merit bonuses for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cafeteria staff and other non-teacher employees are on Tuesday’s agenda. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Almost 4,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees will get a bonus ranging from $525 to $725 in January, after the school board approved a plan for distributing state money for the one-time pay bump.

The bonuses are based on job evaluations, with top-rated staff getting $725 and those rated just below that getting $525. A report to the board said 595 people have qualified for the top amount, 3,224 for the smaller bonus and 39 have yet to be determined.

CMS employs more than 18,000 people. About half of those are teachers, who got raises through the state’s 2016-17 budget and aren’t eligible for the bonuses. Nor are the superintendent’s cabinet members, who opted not to take the payments.

Eligible employees include school administrators, transportation and maintenance staff, cafeteria workers and office staff in schools and central offices. The school board unanimously approved the bonus plan.

“I’m just glad we have the opportunity to do this,” said Vice Chair Elyse Dashew.

Member Ericka Ellis-Stewart agreed, but said many lower-paid employees need higher salaries: “There’s still quite a ways to go, and it’s not a permanent part of the employees’ salary.”

During the public comment time at the start of the meeting, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Vilma Leake urged the board to support “a living wage” through the bonus plan. She twisted her knee going to speak and was helped out immediately after her remarks.

Ellis-Stewart and board member Rhonda Lennon noted that Leake could urge her colleagues to approve additional money to raise pay. CMS does not have taxing authority and relies on the state and county to pay wages.

“If she talked to her eight colleagues, she could probably get us a little more money,” Lennon said.

Also Tuesday, the board re-elected Mary McCray as chair and Dashew as vice chair. Members also welcomed Saniye Wilson, a Providence High senior, as the first student adviser. She is a nonvoting member who sits at the dais with the board.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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