CMS board members urged to support proposed budget

More than a dozen school district employees, students and residents asked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board to support Superintendent Heath Morrison’s proposed 2014-15 budget during a public hearing Tuesday night.

CMS could ask for a $46.2 million increase from the county if the proposal that Morrison presented April 8 is approved.

The proposed budget asks the county to fund a 3 percent pay raise for all CMS employees. Other new funding initiatives include nearly $4 million to increase staff who address the emotional and social needs of students over the next four years, as well as $1.2 million to increase literacy support for first-, second- and third-graders.

The proposed budget would increase county funding for CMS by about 13 percent to $402.7 million.

Erlene Lyde, a West Charlotte High chemistry teacher and leader with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Association of Educators, asked the school board to question whether the intent of the proposed raise “is just window dressing or to keep teachers from leaving CMS in droves.”

The pay raise that the Board of Commissioners could provide CMS teachers – many of whom are state employees – should be increased by 10 percent, Lyde said, noting that other districts across the state are asking for a 20 percent raise from local governments.

North Carolina ranks 46th in the nation in average teacher pay. Last week, a General Assembly task force examining the issue said that finding a sustainable and effective solution would require more study.

The legislative session reconvenes next month, and some county commissioners say that raises are the state’s responsibility. If the state legislature decides to provide across-the-board raises for teachers and other state employees, Morrison said, that money would mean the pay raise could be more than 3 percent.

Local teachers have received one state raise of 1.2 percent in the past five years. Mecklenburg commissioners provided an additional $18.5 million to bring that to 3 percent for CMS employees.

The CMS board will meet for a budget work session April 29 and is scheduled to approve a budget request at its May 13 meeting.

County commissioners won’t vote on an operating budget until mid-June, and it could be September before a finalized operating budget is approved by the school board.

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