Thousands of Charlotte-Mecklenburg School teachers and staff filed into the Time Warner Cable Arena on Thursday for a back-to-school rally. This is the first year the district has held that kind of event.
In a sea of CMS red and black you could feel the electricity of teachers and staff ready for a new school year.
"Happy new year," said CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison to the crowd of employees.
After the state budget cut some funding for teaching assistants, didn't fund teacher raises and eliminated higher pay for master's degrees, some teachers say that it is easy to feel discouraged. And that a rally behind morale could be used.
"It's very difficult to feel appreciated when other people are getting raises and the people who take care of our children are not," said Elizabeth Jordan, a teacher.
"We're feeling a little under appreciated by the state but it's nice that CMS is putting some things together for us," said Joanne Greive, a teacher.
CMS said that planning for the rally was underway even before this years budget and was driven by discussions with teachers. The district said the event was funded by businesses in the community and that no public money was used. Many of the sponsors joined Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison in thanking educators for what they do.
Morrison spoke about goals for the year and made a promise that he will push for more conversations surrounding education funding and increased teacher pay. He said he's spoken with business leaders who support that and even plan to send that message to Raleigh.
"The biggest message they are going to send is that being 48th in teacher salaries is not going to make North Carolina better," said Morrison to the crowd of CMS employees.
Teachers that Eyewitness News spoke with said that despite their current concerns, they like their jobs because of the students.
"It can be challenging at times but you try to remember why you're here and it's about doing what's best for the students that you serve," said David Taylor, a teacher.
"The kids are my motivator, my main motivation," said Elizabeth Jordan, a teacher.
Earlier this week the Governor's Office sent Eyewitness News a statement about teacher pay from the Gov. Pat McCrory saying, "I'm doing all that I can for our teachers. My proposed budget had a raise for teachers, but because of Medicaid overruns to the tune of approximately $500 million, we couldn't make it happen this year." Read more on that story by clicking here.
The Governor's Office also said that while there were cuts in some areas, that there was an overall increase in the education budget this year.
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