by: Jenna Deery Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - More than 100 people stood up Wednesday night to tell Mecklenburg County Commissioners how they want tax money spent starting on July 1.
They want to see teacher pay raises. It's a heated issue Eyewitness News has covered for months.
Teachers, parents and supporters lined East Fourth Street in front of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center holding signs during a rally hours before a county budget hearing.
"It's not just about the paycheck, it's about support," said Michael Lovell, a teacher at West Charlotte High School.
After rallying outside, they took their message inside and packed the meeting chambers to go before the ones who hold the pen to write the check-- the county commissioners.
"The Board of County Commissioners is here tonight for the sole purpose of listening to you," Commissioner Chairman Trevor Fuller told the crowd.
Last week, County Manager Dena Diorio proposed the county give an extra $26.8 million to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools compared to last year. That money will help fund 33 school nurses to provide a nurse for every school.
It would also help fund 2 percent pay increases for 2,822 school positions including 991 teachers the county now funds, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools requested the county pay for 3 percent raises for all 18,500 employees.
This discussion is going on at the county level while state lawmakers continue to debate how to boost teacher pay. One plan calls for pay raises ranging from 1 percent to 20 percent pay increases that would come with drastic cuts to other education dollars.
Another plan calls for 5 percent across the board increases but would rely on lottery receipts to fund them.
On Thursday, the county's straw vote on the budget and changes could be made before they vote to approve the budget June 17.
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