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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Students took the podium Tuesday night at the Charlotte Government Center to speak out about the proposed 2014-2015 CMS budget.

It was the first public hearing since the district unveiled its $403 million dollar budget.

Students let their voices be heard in support of teacher pay raises.

Sarah Fellman, a senior at Providence High School will be attending Harvard University in the fall. She stressed the importance of recruiting quality teachers through higher pay.

Teachers who can work anywhere are going to work where they are going to get more money, and so it is a disservice to students to pay poorly because we are not going to be able to attract high quality teachers, she said.

A lot of people say we can t afford it and that you have to take from somewhere. At the same time we can t afford not to, she said.

Fellman belongs to the area s Youth Council that meets twice a month to collaborate with city and county leaders about various civic issues.

The district is seeking $42 million more in funding from the county than the previous year.

The operating budget includes a 3 percent pay raise for district employees.

According to CMS, the extra funds will go toward increased academic choice and personalization for students, broadening support services and expanding literacy initiatives.

Clarissa Brooks, who is enrolled in AP Spanish, thanked the board for considering programs she would like to see expanded.

Fluency and literacy are such big parts of learning a second language, and I really love the fact that was a focal point in the budget, which normally it really isn t, she said.

Student Sarah Kerman, hopes to earn a degree in Public Policy or Journalism. She hopes her degree will help her shape education policy in the future. She says she is eager to take an active role in the district s plan to increase teacher s pay.

When you pay a lot higher, you are going to be able to have a higher level of teachers to be able to choose from, she said.

Freshman, Aadithya Nair told NBC Charlotte he wants to study Electrical Engineering at MIT one day.

He wants to build super computers using nano-technology and believes increasing salaries will motivate teachers to invest in their own careers, like, in obtaining national board certifications.

He says that in turn will help secure necessary funding for a more hand-on classroom experience.

My school doesn t do any of this. They do an engineering class with basic formulas. They teach you what engineering is all about, but we don t do any practical work, he said.

He says teachers deserve more than the 3 percent proposed hike, but says what is now on the table is a step towards progress.

Deirdre Austin also shared her first-hand account of what teachers go through to makes ends meet.

My mom is a teacher for CMS and she has been a teacher for 23 years. Each day I see her and she has to go after school to make additional money, she said.

People don t realize teachers do so much outside of school. They spend their nights, figuring out what they are going to teach next, spend weekends grading papers for us, and they barely get paid for what they do, she said.

The district will finalize its budget by May. The budget will then have to go before the county commission for approval.
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