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