Mecklenburg County budget only provides half of requested extra CMS funding

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County commissioners are considering funding only half of the requested extra funding by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

CMS board members say if the request isn’t fully funded, the district may not be able to provide their proposed pay raises for teachers and teacher assistants. CMS asked for an additional $40.4 million. The county budget would provide an extra $19.9 million.

Numerous parents, teachers and students addressed Mecklenburg County leaders Wednesday night asking for commissioners to fund the full request.

“I can’t tell you how many times we have recommended someone for hire and the desired candidate went through the HR process and then when presented with their wage or a low annual salary, they simply cannot make ends meet,” West Charlotte High School assistant principal Kevin Poirier said.

CMS parent Jenny Harbin addressed commissioners with her son, Brayden Harbin.

“I’m a kindergartener,” Brayden Harbin said. “I am here to ask you, ‘Can you give the schools enough money to give my teachers a raise?’”

“He was the best person to really appeal to the county commissioners because he is who will be affected by their decisions,” Jenny Harbin said.

County Manager Dena Diorio says the extra $20 million for CMS represents 76% of the total revenue available for the year ahead. She says the CMS budget is increasing at a higher percentage than the general fund.

Chairman George Dunlap says if commissioners want to change the budget at this point, they’ll need to subtract if they want to add.

“If you decide that you want to add additional dollars to a line item for operational dollars in our budget, you must also find a corresponding place where you can remove dollars,” Dunlap said.

School board members say the extra $20 million from the county will only fund required expenses, such as matching state pay raises, health and retirement increases, charter payments and new facility operations. Raises to the local teacher supplement and pay hikes for teacher assistants would be off the table.

With so many vacancies, Jenny Harbin hopes the county finds the money so the district can recruit and retain.

“So many teachers are leaving and everything is going up and their pay isn’t,” she said.

Major changes to the county budget for CMS are unlikely. Only Commissioners Laura Meier and Susan Rodriguez-McDowell are pushing for the full $40 million.

(WATCH BELOW: Meck County manager to present proposed budget to county commissioners)

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