CMS to expand program which financially rewards top teachers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools plan to use a half-million dollar donation from The Belk Foundation to redesign 17 schools across the district. The goal is to meet student needs, and pay some teachers who go above and beyond more often.

Albemarle Elementary School is one of the 17 schools in CMS that is working to redesign itself this year.

The schools will look at how time, money and staff are used right now. Then it will make changes so they're more efficient and reaching student's needs better. At the same time the schools will look for ways to redirect current money so they can pay teachers who go above and beyond.

"How do we identify the teachers who are doing exceptional work, getting more than a year's worth of growth for a year in the classroom and extend their opportunity to impact more children as well as build capacity of their peers," said Superintendent Heath Morrison.

Four Project LIFT schools are already using this model and CMS said they've seen success. Kristin Cubbage said the redesign has made her a teacher leader.

"It allows me to reach 165 children weekly and sometimes daily," said Cubbage, a teacher at Ashley Park.

Cubbage said that she works with four other teachers. She coaches them, co-teaches with them and comes up with new ways to reach kids. At the same time she said she is still teaching students.

Cubbage said she has seen student improvement because of this model. She also said that this opportunity allows her to further her career, increase her salary and stay in the classroom. Without it, she said she would have considered leaving teaching.

The Belk Foundation said it hopes this effort helps teachers feel more valued.

"We think they deserve more -- we think they deserve more pay, we think they deserve respect, more support," said Katie Morris, chairperson of The Belk Foundation.

Morrison said this model is a great way to recognize great teachers and said it's not a way to tackle the overall issue of low teacher pay. He said that is up to state and local leaders.

Below is the list of the 17 schools that will participate in the 2014-2015 school year:
• Albemarle Road Elementary
• Ballantyne Elementary
• Barnette Elementary
• Beverly Woods Elementary
• Bradley Middle
• Coulwood Middle
• Hidden Valley Elementary
• James Martin Middle
• Northwest School of the Arts
• Quail Hollow Middle
• Shamrock Gardens Elementary
• Smithfield Elementary
• Torrence Creek Elementary
• West Mecklenburg High
• William A. Hough High
• Winget Park Elementary
• Winterfield Elementary