Advocacy group analyzes county funds to CMS

by: Paige Hansen Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

A former teacher and principal who is the current head of MeckEd said he was surprised to learn that while Mecklenburg County generates more property tax revenue than any other county in North Carolina, it ranks 12th in how much money goes toward education.
 
"This is not a political attempt," said Bill Anderson, the head of MeckEd, a nonpartisan public education advocacy group. "It's raising the awareness and bringing out the data and bringing out the facts." 
 
Anderson said at a time when governments are strapped for cash, it's important for the data to be available. 
 
He presented it to Charlotte Mecklenburg school board members this week.
 
"What raises the stakes this year is the fact that we're losing so many teachers," Anderson said.
 
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools told Eyewitness News Thursday the number of teachers who may have left the district because of pay has more than tripled since 2009. 
 
According to CMS data, 251 teachers left this school year compared with 73 teachers who left five years ago.
 
In 2003, CMS ranked sixth statewide in county education funding. 
 
In 2010, the ranking dropped to 16th but moved to 12th last year, according to data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
 
"The budget is very huge," Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham said. "The biggest part of the money we spend goes to education and that certainly is our priority."
 
Cotham said it is up to the state to raise pay.
 
"We give a supplement," Cotham said. "A lot of counties don't give a supplement, but we do." 
 
The county said once the manager and commissioners decide how much money to give to CMS, it is up to the district to decide how much money will go to supplementing pay.
 
MeckEd said the state and local government should work together and break the mold since there is a chance the state will not give more money enabling districts to raise pay.
 
"If we're going to point fingers at one another, at the end of the day are children going to be served well?" Anderson said.
 
Cotham said she has been vocal with the state about the issue of teacher pay and encourages everyone to reach out to their legislator about the issue. 
 
The state said teacher pay is a priority. 
 
In February, Gov. Pat McCrory announced a plan to increase starting teacher pay by 13 percent over the next two years. The General Assembly meets for the short session in two weeks, about the same time the board will submit its budget request to the county.

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