CMS board approves budget with 3 percent raise for employees

by: Paige Hansen Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Hundreds of upset teachers cheered Tuesday night when the Charlotte-Mecklenburg's School Board adopted a budget request proposed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison. 
 
Outlined in it, a 3 percent raise for teachers and all CMS staff members, but the district needs help from state and local lawmakers.
 
The Board of Education unanimously approved the superintendent's budget Tuesday, but the board does not have the power to raise pay on its own. 
 
Hundreds of parents and teachers who came to the meeting were told to reach out to state and local leaders to advocate for education.
 
Colorful signs sent a clear a message from speakers who came to rally for education Tuesday night.
 
"We can't possibly reconcile our high expectations for teachers with sub-par pay," said one parent.
 
It was standing room only at Tuesday's board meeting which Tim Morgan, the board's vice chairperson, said, he'd never seen that before.
 
Two hours into the meeting, the board was unanimous in approving a budget first proposed by Morrison in April.
 
The biggest issue on the budget was the 3 percent raise for all 18,000 CMS staff members, which will largely be determined by how much money is given by the state.
 
"I hope they see how many people are in this room," Morrison said. "We have started something and we will continue it."
 
The vote means the board is joining the superintendent in asking county commissioners to contribute to the pay raises. 
 
Several commissioners have told Channel 9 that salaries are the responsibility of the state.
 
Vilma Leake was the only Mecklenburg County commissioner at Tuesday's meeting.
 
"It's what the law says," Leake said. "That the state will take care of educating children."
 
During the meeting, Board of Education member Rhonda Lennon wrote on Facebook she's glad so many people showed up to support CMS. The board told the crowd of people it was time for them to reach out to lawmakers.
 
"I believe the crusade starts tonight," Board of Education member Eric Davis said. "Let's get started."
 
Last week, Gov. Pat McCrory proposed raising all teacher salaries by an average of 2 percent.
 
Lawmakers could take up the issue as early as Wednesday, when the General Assembly's short session begins. 
 
Mecklenburg County commissioners will hold a public hearing on the budget on June 11.