CMS approves budget, includes pay bumps for teachers and staff

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board approved a revised 2022-2023 budget Tuesday, which includes a bump in pay for teachers, teaching assistants and secretaries.

The raises come less than a week before the school year begins.

“It’ll be really interesting to see what Wake County does and some of the other counties that we compete with to see if we can get back the bragging rights to be number one (paying school district) in the state,” said Elyse Dashew, chairwoman of the CMS board.

CMS had requested a $40 million increase in funding from Mecklenburg County commissioners, which would have funded a 10% increase in the teacher supplement. That is money the district adds on top of salaries, but the county only funded just under $20 million.

“The state approved salary-benefit increases, as Superintendent (Hugh) Hattabaugh mentioned, that were higher for all of our staff than what we had planned or expected, a pleasant surprise,” said Christine Pejot, chief human resources officer for CMS.

After moving some funds around, CMS officials said the district is providing:

  • A 5% increase in the county teacher supplement, which are funds added to a teacher’s state salary.
  • An average of 4.2% increase in their state-funded pay.
  • Pay for noncertified, hourly employees, such as teacher assistants, was increased to a minimum of $16.50 an hour.
  • Non-certified, non-hourly staff, such as Central Office workers, will get a 4% pay bump.

“I do want to say we have to look at what we do control and what we can do, and we’re doing that,” said Lenora Shipp, an at-large representative on the CMS board.

Some educators were a bit more reserved with their excitement compared with their counterparts.

“We have to stop always saying, ‘Oh, my God. Thank you for this,’” said Amanda Thompson, a CMS educator, and vice president of the Charlotte branch of the North Carolina Association of Educators. “Yes, we are very grateful, but these are crumbs and what do crumbs do? Keep you wanting more, right?”

Thompson said it will take years of correcting cuts from the state to truly make teachers whole.

“Our educators are tired of that carrot dangling in our eye,” Thompson said. “We’re leaving and going to other professions, so we need to ask ourselves, ‘If we putting student experiences first, how we putting them in priority in our budget?’”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story had incorrect numbers for noncertified, hourly CMS employees’ minimum pay. That mistake has been corrected.

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Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.