Friday, June 5, 2009

Education cuts: 'Horrific, dangerous and scary'

Mad about state education cuts? Here's how to tell lawmakers how you feel.

The state's budget shortfall is driving talk of hundreds more layoffs in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and that's prompting local parents and taxpayers to perk up to the goings-on in Raleigh.

In a conference call this morning, state Rep. Tricia Cotham, who was an assistant principal at East Mecklenburg High before joining the legislature, called some of education cuts outlined by a House subcommittee "horrific, dangerous and scary."

CMS parent Kelly Langston is worried, too.

"I want to try to get parents mobilized to start an aggressive contact campaign to these representatives to protect our classrooms," she e-mailed after reading that Superintendent Peter Gorman is preparing $33 million more in cuts. "What representatives are on these committees so that any calls and letters could be directed to them, specifically? I am hoping to help support the teachers by getting a campaign underway very quickly."

Paper Trail set out not only to find the contact information, but to help budget watchdogs compare the three education budget proposals that are out there, from the House subcommittee, the Senate and Gov. Bev Perdue. Once the House approves a budget, as early as next week, a joint House-Senate committee will hash out a budget for approval this summer.

Comparing the three is a glimpse of an economy in decline. Perdue's budget, which came first, would spend $8.2 billion on public education (community colleges and universities are separate). She'd cut $6.5 million from salaries and benefits for central-office administrators in local school districts. She'd shave a million from More at Four, the state's prekindergarten program, by eliminating 202 slots that weren't claimed by 4-year-olds this year.

The Senate budget, which came next, echoes her central-office cuts and moves More at Four into another department's budget. It would cut $322.7 million in 2009-10 by bumping up class sizes by two students per teacher, which means teacher jobs will disappear. That total is $7.6 billion for public schools.

The House subcommittee's $6.9 billion budget, just posted Thursday, takes $9 million from central-office staff and $10 million from More at Four. It makes the same class-size bump as the Senate's budget in 2009-10, but adds one more student per teacher in 2010-11, for a $463 million cut that year.

There's a whole lot more, but don't be daunted by the page count. The line items for public-education cuts are only about seven pages each in the House and Senate budgets.

Click here to read the N.C. House committee's education budget.

Contact members of the House committee.

Click here to read the N.C. senate's budget plan.

Contact members of the Senate budget committee.

Click here to read the governor's education budget proposal.

Contact Gov. Bev Perdue.

- Ann Doss Helms


Anonymous said...

This isn't just a CMS issue. Gaston County Schools are cutting over 650 positions, which is on average 20 people per school - the vast majority being classroom teachers to my understanding. Scary time to be in education or to have a child in the public school system.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Same thing is happening in Cabarrus County. Instead of getting rid of teachers, why not get rid of the administrators with their cushy salaries? If that isn't an option, how about a salary cut to those admins. I know there is a recession, but our children's education should NOT be affected!

Anonymous said...

They are also cutting all speech and physical therapy medicaid benefits for all children.

Targeting the part of the population unable to speak up for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:14:

From the looks of your grammar and spelling, it appears that the money spent on your education was indeed a waste.

Anonymous said...

The administrators are taking pay cuts also. They are all on state salary, so there pay is being reduced. Did Perdue take a cut?

Anonymous said...

Where are all the millions from the so called Education Lottey.

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, it's up to the parents to ensure that their child is receiving a quality education...

Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid an inmate goes without cable TV, free education and free healthcare! Instead we target the very children that will someday lead this country. We need to get our priorities straight and ensure this country's success by taking care of the children that will lead it in the years to come. Also, what's this about a pier being built on the coast to the tune of millions?? Again... priorities!

Anonymous said...

scum of the earth wrote..."Ultimately, it's up to the parents to ensure that their child is receiving a quality education..."

Anonymous said...

Today, I had the opportunity to join a conference call hosted by Representative Tricia Cotham She addressed the major cuts to education, health care, and crime prevention that are proposed in the House subcommittee's 2010 budget.
These proposed budget cuts are very severe. They affect every level of education, every student, health care, crime prevention, & the justice system.
I am providing the information she presented regarding education.

There is a $1.8 billion cut to education
A total of 18,000 educators will be terminated
Poor and special needs students will be majorly impacted.
Teachers will see reductions in benefits

Some examples of Terminations:
6,000 teachers in elementary schools as a result of increased class size by 2 students
All literacy coaches
All teachers assistants beyond 3rd grade
350 assistant principals as a result of increase to 940 students per administrator
450 social workers
48 school nurses
7% of all support staff

Learn & Earn program eliminated
19% increase for community college tuition
8% increase for university tuition

The House subcommittee's 2010 budget is up for vote this coming Tuesday. Representative Cotham has asked all comunity leaders across the state to reach out and spread the word, that these cuts that will touch all of our lives are unacceptable, will ad to the unemployment line, and leave our most vulnerable citizens without the basic resources they need to grow into productive adults. Please write to your Representatives for the State House and State Senate ASAP! The vote is Tuesday (There is a lookup tool for your representatives on the right hand menu)

Anonymous said...

This 'assistant principal with a cushy job' makes $44.00 a month more than a classroom teacher. Next time there is a discipline issue in your classroom , deal with it yourself and don't ask for help from your assistant principal.

Anonymous said...

The schools need to fire the fluff positions, coaches, athletic directors, band, drama, etc. and use the money to pay the real teachers.

Anonymous said...

Well, Charlotte has *2* pro sports franchises, a zotsy Time-Warner arena with oodles of tax dollars into it, a AAA baseball team down the road that wants a new home downtown, a NASCAR Hall of Fame nearing completion ... and now - - - schools that aren't worth a bus ride getting to.

Hmmm ... if this all marks a "world class" city, I'd like a peek at the alternative, please.

Anonymous said...

How about City Council give up that 30% pay raise they voted for themselves last summer?? That would have some teaching jobs!!

Anonymous said...

Monday at 5 pm downtown outside the ed center. Save our Teachers RALLY please show your support for those teachers affected by Pete's Moves.

And maybe a few good teachers will return to their classrooms to help your kids.

Anonymous said...

This is not meant to be snarky.
Can someone explain or let me know what link might explain the following items from the House Approp. Cmt. 2009-11 budget proposal:
Civil Penalties Receipts,
At Risk Student services,
Focused Education Reform,
Improving Student Accountability,
Low Wealth Supplemental Funding,
Child and Family Support Teams,
Dropout Prevention Grants,
Children's Trust Fund - (which looks like its moving to the HHS dept. but gets funding from marriage license fees?)

The pdf. gives a basic description but where is a more detailed explanation of how these programs spend money and their effectiveness?

Anonymous said...

Well, goodness knows there aren't any other things in the state budget to cut. It's strange how it always comes down to either cutting education or raising taxes; it's almost as if they want people to demand tax increases because they care about education (and believe that there really isn't any waste in the state budget; it's 100 percent Seriously Essential stuff!). Also, we don't want to do anything else in education, such as lift the charter school cap and give parents more choice (with schools that are cheaper per-pupil to operate).

Anonymous said...

My idea? Anyone in education (only administrators make this) who makes more than 100k take a one time cut down to 99k for 2009 school year. Cut all taxpayer paid busing costs for magnets...Stop the pre-k free daycare (CMS would save 11 million), freeze all new road building. If CMS stopped the building of the new Mint Hill High School for one year that would save 51 million (I know it comes from a different source). Lastly, raise the sales tax 2%. Instead of 94 cent for that candy bar, it would be 96. Don't cut the classroom!

Anonymous said...

could this be called "fear-mongering?"

Jay said...

FYI: Schools are not the only thing receiving "Horrific, dangerous, and scary" cuts- they are happening across the board. However Schools are the biggest part of the State’s budget, so naturally they would see the biggest cut in terms of the amount of money.
However the State's school districts need to run more efficiently- throwing money at them will not solve the problem. It costs CMS over 13,000 per student per year. (dividing total funding by number of students- but not including construction bonds). Whereas many private schools are able to educate students for less than 10,000 per year, while providing smaller class sizes and in many cases a higher quality education. I am not a fan of cutting money from the schools, however they do need better management and need to stop wasting money on some frivolous programs.
One last thing- The City of Charlotte does not fund CMS so the city budget has no effect on CMS.

Mary said...

It is about priorities.

Anonymous said...

Yes, schools do need improvement, but this is not the time to worry about how to do it. The important thing is to keep the current level of education and not slash programs that are needed to help (especially) educationally disadvantaged children. Unfortunately, not everyone can make sure their child's education is at the level it should be (according to an earlier comment). Some people would say why should we worry about some child's parent who can't or won't help in their education? Because in the long run, it will ultimately affect our economy if we have to build more jails or support someone on welfare because they can't get a job without a good education.
Legislators need to realize we have to tighten our belts and pay for what is necessary to keep our country strong - education and health. That is an investment we must make.

Anonymous said...

As hard as it is now to get a job with a good education, I can't imagine how difficult it will be for those without one.

I think the next big problem we are going to have to deal with is underemployment; people working at jobs well below their educational level.

This will probably bump the uneducated even further down the totem pole.

I'd hate to see it come to either more jails or welfare, but what are the other choices when even an education doesn't mean you can get a job?

I think that's what's happening now.