County budget proposal would force CMS to scrap phased wage-increase plan

Mandated compliance could result in district position cuts

CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 1, 2020 — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education announced June 1 that a motion by the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners would mandate the district abandon a three-year plan, begun last year that would bring all hourly employees up to a minimum of $15 an hour. Constraints accompanying the county funding, however, could force the district to eliminate up to 175 positions.

The motion withholds $11 million from county funding for the school district until all full-time, non-certified employees are paid at least $15 per hour. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education said that compliance with the motion would require making cuts elsewhere in the operating budget, because the county has not provided additional money to cover the cost of the increase.

“We value our hourly employees. They need and deserve a minimum of $15 an hour. Their contributions have always been critical to the success of our students,” said Elyse Dashew, chair of the Board of Education. “But no one on the Board of Education wants to lay off employees, especially in the middle of a pandemic when unemployment is already at record levels. Unfortunately, we may have no alternative.”

The Board of Education shares the objective of improving pay for hourly employees. Board members are continuing discussions with county commissioners.

The Board of Education said that pausing all new initiatives planned for the 2020-2021 year may not be enough to avoid eliminating positions. A reduction in force could be necessary because state law prohibits any public school district from operating without a balanced budget. Without additional money to pay for the raises, the district will face a funding shortfall of almost $9 million for the upcoming school year. About 85% of the district’s operating budget is spent on salaries and benefits for its nearly 19,000 employees.

Author: WSIC editor