Yes, some Charlotte teachers make good money, but they’re rare

For more on this story, see our blog post, which details how many other well-paid Opportunity Culture® positions exist in Charlotte-Mecklenburg beyond the 26 cited here. Another 30 multi-classroom leaders make supplements of $13,000, and many other positions also receive supplements in CMS—and that number continues to grow as more schools join and expand the district’s Opportunity Culture® initiative.

Published in The Charlotte Observer, May 20, 2016, by Ann Doss Helms

At Lake Norman Charter School, the board squeezes its budget so that experienced, highly qualified teachers can see their salaries climb past $60,000.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, 26 high-performing teachers collected an extra $16,000 to $23,000 for taking on extra duties, pushing annual pay to almost $90,000 for a couple of them.

Low pay for North Carolina’s teachers is a perennial sore point. A recent national report pegged the average at 42nd in the nation – up from 47th the year before.

More money doesn’t automatically translate to better teaching. But local examples offer signs that rewarding the best educators can pay off.

Lake Norman Charter, a Huntersville school with grades five through 12, has the best-paid charter school faculty in the Charlotte region, the salary databases show. “We really have to tighten our belts to make that happen,” says Superintendent Shannon Stein.

Lake Norman can also claim the last two state charter school Teachers of the Year and the region’s highest ranking on a recent U.S. News & World Report list of best public high schools for college preparation.

In CMS, the Opportunity Culture® program that provides five-figure raises will expand from 23 schools this year to 36 next year. In that program, bigger paychecks aren’t simply a reward for results but an incentive for effective teachers to stay in the classroom while reaching more kids.

Ranson Middle School, one of the first to try this approach, saw performance on the eighth-grade science test soar last year after Bobby Miles, who had seen big gains with his own students, took on oversight of all eighth-grade science classes last year. He got a $16,100 raise to create lesson plans for his colleagues and to work with students who needed help. Last year, Ranson logged the highest science growth of any CMS middle school.

But every effort to boost the high end of teacher pay scales demands a tradeoff…

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