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CMS teachers, staff calling for salary boosts in this year's budget

CMS staff is also proposing a salary increase of up to 2.7% for staff and principals. District staff says that would cost about $33.9 million.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' central staff continue to plan the next budget, CMS central staff are calling for salary increases.

The district has seen more than 10% of its staff resign or retire since the beginning of the school year. 

CMS central staff wants the school board to advocate for $11.2 million in extra dollars from Mecklenburg County, increasing local teacher supplements by 10%. 

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Superintendent Earnest Winston supported this push in his 2022-2023 budget recommendation. 

“Let's be clear to the public, we're talking about a 10% on the supplement, not 10%, across the board," CMS At-Large Board Member Jennifer De La Jara said earlier in March.

The money would go to increase the local pay supplement. The local pay supplement is extra money eligible teachers and instructional staff get, on top of their paychecks. 

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CMS staff is also proposing a salary increase of up to 2.7% for staff and principals. District staff says that would cost about $33.9 million.

Staff also wants the board to consider increasing the minimum wage for teacher assistants to $16.50 to be more competitive in acquiring the position. 

On Tuesday, a presentation on staffing given to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education stated that North Carolina ranked 33rd in the nation in 2019-2020 for average teacher salary at $54,150, adding that the current average teacher salary is $56,675. 

When it comes to attracting and keeping teachers CMS Schools is fighting an all-out battle to get an edge over other school districts in the state and country. 

“There really isn't a better way to start attracting good teachers to our district than saying, you know, if you come here, here's what we can pay you, and guess what you can afford to rent an apartment with a salary," said Justin Parmenter, a CMS teacher, and member of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators. 

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If the new budget proposal passes it would mean a new teacher, with a bachelor’s degree, at CMS that currently gets paid $41,736 would get a raise, to $43,490. The 2.7% increase would contribute $1,126 and the 10% teacher supplement would add $628. 

“You know, the county often says, and rightly so that, you know, the state needs to be stepping up and doing more," Parmenter said. "They haven't, you know, they haven't, and we can either continue to wait for them and watch our staffing crisis grow, or we can commit to trying to do more at the county level.”  

CMS staff admits even if they boost salaries the district still has stiff competition from other states. 

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CMS’ current average teacher salary of $56,675 is about $6,500 behind the National Education Association 2020-21 nationwide average salary projection. 

WCNC Charlotte has compiled searchable databases based on information from CMS showing the salary scales for teachers with a Bachelor's degree versus a master's degree, based on experience level. 

Under the proposed budget changes, the annual local supplements for these teachers would increase by 10% from what is listed in the databases. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing money@wcnc.com.

Former CMS staff who have left the district have cited safety concerns and lack of resources in schools as reasons to leave. 

Before district leaders can finalize the budget, the district will have to request funding from Mecklenburg County, which it says supplies about a third of the operating budget, at a meeting on May 10.

Contact Shamarria Morrison at smorrison@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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