CHARLOTTE, N.C. — LaMont Josey is a behavioral modification technician at North Ridge Middle School in Charlotte. He keeps students on task who struggle to focus and manage their own behavior.


What You Need To Know

North Carolina is one of the worst states for teacher pay, ranking 43rd in the nation

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools ranks second in the state for starting teacher pay at $41,736, but a new budget could put it in the lead

CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston proposed increasing certified teacher salaries by 2.75%, raising the minimum wage for teacher assistants to $16.50 per hour and boosting non-certified staff pay by 2.5%


“When you get to make a difference with just one child, there’s a joy that it gives you,” he said.

But the difference he’s making doesn’t show up on his paycheck, forcing him to cut back on certain expenses, despite working around the clock.

“We can’t go out to eat. That’s why when I cook, I make sure that I cook for the week,” he said.

North Carolina ranks 43rd in the U.S. for teacher starting salaries with an average of $37,049, according to the National Education Association. The low wages have North Carolinians leaving their jobs. 

Since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says it has lost hundreds of teachers — 244 teacher assistants alone. CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston proposed a budget that would boost salaries and supplement pay to attract and retain more staff.

For now, Josey and his wife Dominiquie, who’s also an educator, work side jobs to fill in the gaps. He’s a musician for a local church, and she’s a fourth grade English language arts teacher at Ashley Park Elementary School. She tutors outside of her teaching job and delivers groceries.

“Without those extra income sources, we would just literally be able to just pay our bills,” she said.

The NEA says Mecklenburg County ranks second in North Carolina for beginning teacher pay after Wake County with a $41,376 starting salary. If the proposed budget passes, CMS would become the highest paid county for teachers in the state. 

The changes would increase pay for non-certified staff — like LaMont Josey — by 2.5% and boost teachers' supplement pay by 10%. Supplement pay is what certified teachers receive in addition to their annual salary.

For Dominiquie Josey, who has five years of experience with her master’s degree, her supplement pay would jump by $768 on top of a 2.75% salary increase outlined in the projected proposal.

She says the extra pay would be nice, but it will be taxed.

“I just don’t feel like the raise is going to be big enough to make a difference,” she said.

But LaMont Josey says even having this conversation is a step in the right direction.

“I think that it will help people to understand, not the fact that it may make a big difference in their paycheck, but it’ll at least let them know that you are appreciated,” he said.

The school board could vote on the budget by April 26.