Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools face as much as a $100 million dollar budget cut next fiscal year depending on decisions made by the State of North Carolina and Mecklenburg County.
The Education Liaison Committee met February 15 to set the stage for the upcoming budget cycle. Commissioners Roberts, Pendergraph, Cogdell and Leake along with Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis and member Tom Tate heard reports from Superintendent Peter Gorman and County Manager Harry Jones.
Dr. Gorman reminded the committee that the school system is facing cuts of nearly $100 million on top of cuts in County funding in four of the past five years, $41 million the past two years. Despite that, Gorman points to increases in Math proficiency of 11% since the 2005/06 school year, the graduation rate increased from 65% to 69.4% and 103 system schools had a majority of students growing at least one year academically last year. Highest priority for CMS is to have the most effective teachers teaching the lowest performing students.
County Manager Jones reported that the County is in much better shape going into the FY12 budget season. He says the unknown is how much the State will force counties to pay for State-mandated services. Jones said he will be asking the Board to fund a Debt Service Fund, PayGo and restored employee benefits. Jones says he has asked department directors to develop budgets with potential cuts of up to 5% in case it is needed.
The committee will meet again in March when members will discuss so-called wrap-around services. These are services provided to school-aged children that are paid for by someone other than the school system. These would include homeless services, behavior therapy, after school programs, etc.