Charlotte Mecklenburg educators petition district leadership to address staffing crisis by increasing retention bonuses

Local education advocates are calling on Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools leadership to deepen their commitment to staff by increasing retention bonuses that were announced earlier this month. They’re asking for colleagues and allies to sign and share a petition asking for the bonuses to be doubled.

On December 8 the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education unanimously approved a district proposal to use federal ESSER funds to pay $2500 bonuses to all full-time staff and $1250 to part-time staff.

The move came as news broke that nearly 10% of CMS teachers have either resigned or retired since the beginning of the school year.

According to the district’s plan, half of the bonus will be paid this week and the other half next fall. After taxes that means full-time staff will receive approximately $800 in local bonus money for this entire school year.

Ink 4 Ed Equity, a group of advocates that raised thousands of dollars to provide internet connectivity to Charlotte Mecklenburg students in need last year, says that amount is unlikely to end the staffing crisis.

In a petition that was released today, the group notes the heavy toll the loss of so many educators is having on remaining staff and student outcomes and points out that Wake County Public Schools’ retention bonuses come to $5000–with three quarters being paid out before the end of the current school year.

The petition concludes by saying “Ink 4 Ed Equity and our allies call on CMS leadership to increase retention bonuses to $5000 for all full-time and $2500 for part-time staff to sustain our current workforce.”

You can read, sign and share the petition at the below link or sign the embedded version underneath it.

Proposed CMS bonus stands at half what Wake County Schools employees will receive

An emergency meeting of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education has been called for 6 pm this evening with just one action item on the agenda:  “Recommend Approval of Employee Retention Incentives.”

According to the Charlotte Observer, CMS officials will ask the board to approve bonuses of $2500 for full time employees and $1250 for part time employees.  Half would be paid this month and the other half in September 2022.

In October, CMS Chief Human Resources Officer Christine Pejot called the number of district teachers who had retired or resigned since the beginning of this school year “staggering.”  At the time the district had lost just over 500 educators.  

That number has since ballooned to nearly 900–roughly 10% of the district’s total teacher workforce.

It’s excellent news that CMS plans to use a portion of its federal Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to reward employees who have stuck with the district through extraordinarily difficult times.  Such a move could help to stem the exodus of teachers which is negatively impacting student learning and ratcheting up the workload on educators who have remained in the classroom.

However, it’s important to have some context for how CMS’s plan measures up against what other districts are doing.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is most often compared with Wake County Public Schools.  Both districts are similar in size and face many of the same issues when it comes to staffing.

Wake County has chosen to give its employees $5000 in bonus money–exactly double what is being proposed by CMS.

Wake’s employees got $1250 in November 2021 and will see three more payments of $1250, in January, May and November of 2022.

Just a month after pitiful raises in the state budget left educators feeling undervalued and disrespected, CMS has the opportunity to use this federal money to make a move that would show employees how much it respects them and appreciates their continued commitment to our community. 

Lowballing educators by giving them half what their colleagues in Wake County are getting is not the way to accomplish that.