CMS superintendent says NC budget impasse holding up funds, raises

CMS superintendent says NC budget impasse holding up funds, raises

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is urging lawmakers in Raleigh to find a solution to the budget impasse.

The budget stalemate is in its fourth month, the longest in 18 years.

Superintendent Earnest Winston said the delay is holding up funding for support staff, teacher raises and textbook and digital tools funding.

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“The lack of an enacted budget is hurting our students, our staff, and our schools,” Winston wrote in a letter to lawmakers in Raleigh. “Funding for the promised support staff has been delayed until it will be difficult to add these new positions this school year…professional staff, certified staff, and non-certified staff have not received the raises that you have supported in the budget. The absence of non-recurring funds in such areas as textbook/digital tools limits our ability to provide instructional resources needs for our students.”

A Republican proposal in the General Assembly would fund pay increases for school principals. It also includes $1,000 pay bumps, known as step increases, for teachers with less than 15 years experience.

Legislation allowing North Carolina public school teachers only seniority pay raises already on the books has cleared one General Assembly chamber despite complaints from Gov. Roy Cooper and other Democrats that they're insufficient.

“It's pretty disappointing," said CMS teacher Kevin Poirer. "I would say that there's a consistent sort of feeling like the politics of education in North Carolina are broken. We've not received the sort of funding or support that our kids deserve, but I would say that teachers are resilient. They're not focused on this when they show up to the classroom."

The budget has been at an impasse since June, after Cooper vetoed it, saying it failed to expand Medicaid, among other concerns like not including high enough teacher pay raises.

The budget bill contained nearly 4% teacher raises on average over two years. Cooper wants double that amount.

Cooper was in Charlotte Friday, and expressed his frustration, though he seemed hopeful.

"They're still gonna be in session a little while longer,” he said. “We're hoping that we can get a positive development out of this but it's deeply concerning."