CMS: State plan makes 3 percent raises likely

CMS: State plan makes 3 percent raises likely

CMS: State plan makes 3 percent raises likely

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by ANN HELMS / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on June 20, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 20 at 4:03 PM

More than 18,000 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees are likely to get 3 percent raises in July, thanks to a state budget plan that provides a 1.2 percent hike for teachers and other state employees.

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh called the plan approved by state House and Senate leaders Wednesday “very positive.” He said he hopes to have a plan ready for board approval Tuesday that would let CMS claim the $18.5 million county commissioners put into a reserve fund for raises.

Hattabaugh and CMS Chief Financial Officer Sheila Shirley were still waiting to see details of the budget plan Wednesday. Hattabaugh cautioned that nothing will be final until both houses approve the plan and the governor signs it.

“At first blush,” he said, “it looks very positive.”

CMS hasn’t given across-the-board raises since 2008, when the state froze pay. The two-year state spending plan approved last year didn’t provide raises in 2012-13, either. CMS officials have spent months lobbying county commissioners for local money to give 3 percent raises, even to teachers and other staff who would normally get their bump from the state.

Commissioners approved a $335 million budget for CMS but put $18.5 million of that into a restricted fund, to be used only for giving employees a 3 percent raise. Some commissioners said they didn’t trust CMS leaders to spend the money that way.

If CMS can’t get the $18.5 million, the district will end up with less county money in 2012-13 than this year, even as costs and enrollment are expected to rise.

Hattabaugh and Shirley said they’ll use the county money to bump state-paid employees up to a 3 percent increase and to give raises to employees paid by county, federal or grant money.

The state provides more than half of the CMS operating budget, which is about $1.2 billion. If state money allows, CMS will hire additional high school teachers, as outlined in this year’s budget plan, Hattabaugh said.

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