NC teachers ask for better salaries; prepare for May 16 rally

- Charlotte-Mecklenburg teachers and the North Carolina Association of Educators held a town hall at the Morrison Regional Library in South Park this Monday in preparation for Wednesday's march at the state capitol.

It's estimated that 2,000 teachers from the greater-Charlotte area plan to go to Raleigh. Several schools districts have canceled classes as a result.

RELATED: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools cancels classes May 16 in response to teachers' rally

Senator Jeff Tarte from Cornelius says he will be meeting with several teachers who travel to Raleigh this week. The senator says the legislature has been giving teachers raises, but a CMS teacher tells FOX 46 Charlotte her take home pay is actually going down.

"I am a teacher. I teach at West Charlotte High School. I teach science there. This is my 37th year," said Erlene Lyde. She has been teaching at CMS for nearly four decades. Lyde says she hasn’t seen a raise in years.

“When they talk about average teacher salaries and pay raises, people in my situation with 30 years haven't seen a dime of that money."

RELATED: CMS teachers fighting for better pay, working conditions 

On Friday, Senator Jeff Tarte posted a graphic on Facebook that shows the average teacher pay raises in North Carolina since 2015. The numbers show there have been raises every year and this year's average raise is set at 6.1 percent.

"When I came in six years ago, we were at 48th in average teacher pay. Rock bottom. Embarrassing. Now we're climbing out of that hole with constant raises. I think the index for cost for living we're like 29th now. It's a massive step forward, but we have a long way to go," said Senator Jeff Tarte.

Erlene says she hasn't seen the bump in pay. In fact, she says her take home pay has actually gone down.

"There's been no across the board raises. They've raised the lower end of the scale, but they've kept us at that same salary. Our benefits prices have increased so if you adjust for inflation we've seen a six percent decrease in salary."

RELATED: NC Representative calls teachers "thugs" ahead of May 16 rally

The national average teacher pay this year is $60,483, according to National Education Association. The average teacher pay in North Carolina is $50,861. We're nearly $10,000 below the national average.

FOX 46 Charlotte asked Senator Tarte if it would be possible to bring North Carolina up to the national average during the short session.

"I would say in this session absolutely not. It's not even a realistic ask because we set the budget on two-year biennium. The only time you can really do that significantly is during the long session."

Senator Tarte says it couldn't happen even during the next long session. He says it will take around 10 years to get the state up to the national average teacher pay.

Nevertheless, thousands of teachers will be in Raleigh this Wednesday to make their voices heard.

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