Wednesday, November 30, 2011

CMS: Help us find teachers

Here's the memo Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools sent employees this week,  seeking their help recruiting candidates for a program that prepares people without formal teacher training to become licensed teachers. 

From: cmscommunications
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2011 12:10
To: cmsmailall
Subject: Do you know someone who would make a great teacher? Refer them to TEACH Charlotte.

Do you know someone who would make a great teacher? Refer them to TEACH Charlotte today:

You made the choice to dedicate each day to supporting education in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. You probably know other outstanding individuals who are also looking for an opportunity to make a difference by becoming teachers. While CMS currently has an accomplished group of professional educators, the need for additional high-quality teachers is always great. The TEACH Charlotte program is an aggressive campaign to recruit local and committed professionals, community members, and recent college graduates who have the potential to become effective teachers, joining us in our efforts to increase student achievement in CMS classrooms.

TEACH Charlotte is a highly selective, innovative path for talented mid-career professionals and recent college graduates to become teachers and make a measurable difference in the most critical subject areas of math, science, EC, and Spanish as well as elementary, English, and language arts. The goal of TEACH Charlotte is to recruit, select, and train only the most outstanding candidates who have the potential to effectively increase student achievement in their classrooms. Candidates do not need to have taken courses in education or have prior teaching experience, but they should be committed to ensuring the academic success of our students and our schools.

TEACH Charlotte participants will:

Complete a rigorous summer training to develop their ability to affect student achievement as a new teacher in a high-need school;
Achieve significant academic growth with all of their students and hold themselves accountable by measuring student outcomes in their classrooms;
Complete lateral entry requirements through the TEACH Charlotte TNTP Academy during their first year teaching to earn North Carolina licensure.
Committed educators attract other committed educators; therefore, principals and current teachers are the key to helping us attract the community’s brightest leaders to become teachers.

As soon as possible, refer any high quality professionals who you think would make great teachers to our website, to apply to teach or help share information about this opportunity to others who might be interested in applying. The early application deadline is Dec.19.

We know that teacher quality is the most critical factor in raising student achievement for all students, regardless of background or socioeconomic status. TEACH Charlotte is committed to recruiting and preparing high-quality, effective teachers who will raise student achievement in the classrooms that need them most.

Feel free to contact Mallory O’Connell, TEACH Charlotte site manager, with any questions or suggestions.

TEACH Charlotte contact information:
980-343-5886 | |
Become a fan of TEACH Charlotte on Facebook.

Monday, November 14, 2011

CMS report: No safety data

Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Kaye McGarry provided the Observer a copy of the school-closing report interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh decided not to distribute last week.

It contains no information about safety or discipline at Harding High or any of the other 35 schools that saw change because of school closings and mergers.  Instead,  it lists enrollment,  mobile classrooms and teacher vacancies at the affected schools.  View it here.

McGarry and two other board members had asked Hattabaugh to report on issues connected with the closings;  they all cited concerns about safety and order at Harding,  which almost doubled in enrollment after taking students from the closed Waddell High.  When the board voted 8-1 to wait until December to hold that discussion,  Hattabaugh had his staff keep the written report.  The Observer requested it,  noting that is is a public document,  and spokeswoman LaTarzja Henry said CMS will provide it.  McGarry forwarded the copy sent to board members Friday night.

McGarry replied to Hattabaugh that  "it does not address tension and safety issues at any of those schools ... please advise."

Roberts: "I am ready for the road ahead"

Mecklenburg commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts announced today she won't seek re-election next year. Click here to read her prepared remarks.

Roberts first joined the board in 2004, and said she'd planned to serve in the role for no more than eight years.

In her announcement, Roberts said it has been a difficult tenure with deep cutbacks to services and jobs since the recession. But she said the county has "turned the corner on this crisis," noting the county has kept its triple-A bond rating with credit agencies.

She pledged to make the coming year "my most dedicated year ever."

"I look forward to continue working on the issues that make our county strong: education, environment, responsible fiscal management and most importantly job creation. And I am eager to help showcase Charlotte and Mecklenburg County to the rest of the world during the DNC."

Roberts' said she isn't stepping away from public service and "is exploring new pathways to serve our region and our state, as we strive to be the best in which to live, work and recreate ... I am ready for the road ahead, for we still have far to go .. together." -- APRIL BETHEA

Monday, September 26, 2011

New pitch to CMS teachers

After last spring's surge of distrust and discontent over performance pay,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders are trying again to get teachers on board for changing the way educators are hired,  trained,  evaluated and paid.  This year's effort is dubbed the Talent Effectiveness Project.

Details will be publicly unveiled at Tuesday's school board meeting,  but CMS has circulated some information sheets outlining parts of the plan.  Here's the outline of the teacher working teams they're recruiting for,  and here's a look at some of the measures that might be used to evaluate and pay teachers.

A lot of this sounds like what officials and teachers were working on last year.  The introduction to the Talent Effectiveness Project says officials listened and learned:  "The initiative was first known as Pay for Performance,  but it has grown and renewed its focus after more than a year of research,  discussions and input from staff members across the district."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Berry responds

Twenty years after North Carolina's deadliest workplace disaster, state officials overhauled N.C. OSHA and expanded it into one of the nation's largest workplace safety programs.

Now, however, there are signs that the safety focus has waned. Safety inspections and citations are at their lowest level in years.

In response to the Observer's questions, N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry provided this written statement.

- Ames Alexander

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sterilization documents can be shocking

"You wouldn't expect a moron to run a train,  or a feebleminded woman to teach school,"  begins a 1950 pamphlet from the Human Betterment League of North Carolina.  The brochure,  illustrated with Dick-and-Jane style drawings,  pitches the notion that it's a favor to all concerned to stop "feebleminded" people from having children.

That's among the many public documents to be found at the N.C. Justice for Sterilization Victims web site,  along with data about North Carolina's eugenic sterilization program,  information about how to verify whether you or loved ones were operated on as part of the program and a preliminary report from the task force created to advise the governor on possible compensation.

Reps.  Larry Womble and Earline Parmon have introduced a bill that would provide $20,000 each for living victims,  though Womble has said he thinks the payments should be higher.  That bill has yet to make it out of committee for a vote.

This summer,  the John Locke Foundation released a paper arguing for compensation as a means of reminding government not to interfere in the private lives of citizens.

North Carolina has been grappling with its history of ordering tubal ligations,  hysterectomies,  vasectomies and castrations on children and adults deemed unfit to reproduce since a 2002 series in the Winston-Salem Journal exposed the story.  In 2005, researcher Johanna Schoen,  who uncovered the records that led to that series,  published "Choice & Coercion,"  which provides even more details about eugenic sterilization,  birth control and abortion in North Carolina.

And if you're still looking for more,  the University of Vermont has summarized the eugenic sterilization movement in all states.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GOP statement on commissioner districts

Republican members of a citizens' committee created to help Mecklenburg commissioners reset county election lines issued a statement today explaining why they asked state lawmakers to step into the redistricting debate.

The statement was signed jointly by Bryan Holladay, Larry Shaheen, Lee Teague and Mike Walker. -- APRIL BETHEA

A Statement from the Republican members of the Ad Hoc County Commission Redistricting Committee:

After a great deal of soul-searching , the Republican members of the Ad Hoc Redistricting Committee decided to inform local members of the state delegation from the Matthews and Mint Hill of a proposed plan by Democrats on the committee that would severely harm the interests of those towns. A plan we feared would be railroaded through the County Commission.

The Democrats had proposed a plan that created a new, radically different District 6 that winds from Matthews and Mint Hill through central Charlotte then all the way over to South Blvd. The Republicans repeatedly asked for either an explanation or a revision to the plan. At our final meeting and after subsequent requests, neither was forthcoming. It became obvious there would be none.

Our primary concern centers around the impact on the southern towns. Dividing them between two separate districts and tying them to significant areas of Charlotte far from them would dilute their voice on the County Commission and potentially deny them their due from County services such as schools and parks.

Over the course of last week, it has become apparent from email discussions on the four plans agreed to be sent to the Commissioners for consideration that the Democrats real intention was to use their majority on the Committee and the Commission to influence the type of Republican elected from this district. Phrases such as “change for change’s sake” and “an opportunity to elect a candidate of their choice” were bandied about. Their hope seems to be to see someone more to their liking at the expense of the southern towns.

We decided we had to take some action so we discussed the issue with the state House and Senate members from Matthews and Mint Hill. They shared our concerns. At their request, we combined the best aspects of all four plans into one fair, legal, and logical plan that minimizes the change from the current districts, produces compact districts that allow all for better interaction between commissioners and their constituents, meets all the guidelines from the County Commission, and keeps communities together. It is a good-faith effort to create six fair districts, not just three or four of them.

This plan has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Brawley with the support of Senators Rucho and Tucker. We applaud the actions of these representatives to protect the interests of the southern towns and the southern part of Mecklenburg County against the redistricting plan proposed by the Democrats.

Bryan Holladay
Larry Shaheen
Lee Teague
Mike Walker

Thursday, July 21, 2011

CRVA: National search for new CEO

The Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority will conduct a national search for a new chief executive in its plan to move current CEO Tim Newman to a new job overseeing business development, sales and marketing.

Click here to read the CRVA statement.

While the search is under way, "Tim will remain in his current position as chief executive," the statement says.

CRVA's goal is to finish the search by year's end.

- Doug Miller

Friday, July 15, 2011

CHS: county, not hospital, breached pact

Carolinas HealthCare System alleges that Mecklenburg County has failed to honor its longtime contract with the hospital authority by eliminating indigent care funding and reducing money for the health department in its 2011-12 budget without proper notice. It also said the county has improperly withheld money to CHS in recent weeks.

In court papers filed Thursday, the hospital system asked the courts to compel the county to honor the terms of its agreement with CHS "unless and until such time as the contract is properly terminated with appropriate notice." Or, Carolinas HealthCare said, the court could order the county to pay damages.

Read the suit by clicking here. The filing comes two days after Mecklenburg commissioners voted to end the county's contract with Carolinas HealthCare effective June 30, 2013.

The hospital authority also wants a court to declare the CHS has fulfilled its obligations under the contract.

In June, county commissioners approved a budget that cut a subsidy to CHS and Novant Health toward indigent care. The spending plan also cuts $500,000 from a contract the hospital system has to manage services at the county's health department.

In its suit, Carolinas HealthCare says the county has the right to make changes to its agreement, but can't without appropriate notice. The suit also states that the withholding of payments to the hospital "terminates certain aspects of the 2000 Joint Undertaking, without providing CHS appropriate notice."

The county has withheld payments to the hospital systems since early June when County Manager Harry Jones and other administrators said CHS was in breach of its agreement. The county says the hospital has not provided certain patient data and other information required under the contract. This week, the county also claimed the hospital hasn't conducted psychiatric evaluations for disabled adults served by the Department of Social Services.

The hospital has denied both allegations. It says it has worked diligently to provide required data and in accordance with state and federal law. -- APRIL BETHEA

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Emails show Wachovia's lobbying on bailout

The U.S. Treasury recently provided the Observer with 17 pages of emails and other documents as part of a nearly three-year-old Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents show Wachovia's lobbying related to the bank bailout bill in September 2008 and other interactions with Treasury.

Click here to read the documents.

- Rick Rothacker

Monday, June 27, 2011

Projections soared during race for NASCAR Hall

Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority officials rejected early, more modest attendance projections for the NASCAR Hall of Fame as competition to host the facility intensified between Charlotte, Atlanta and Daytona.

"It is not clear what, if any, due diligence was conducted in support of these upward revisions," concluded a report released today from a consultant who studied the authority.

Click here to read the Pricewaterhouse Coopers report.

The report said it is possible that the hall's failure to hit its projected first-year attendance of 800,000 - 274,000 visited in its first year - resulted from the weak economy.

But the CRVA chief executive and its board of directors should have clearly identified the potential lack of supporting evidence for the projections at the tax-supported project, the report said.

- Doug Miller

Thursday, June 23, 2011

CMS: Middle school sports are back

Here's the memo CMS officials sent to principals and board members today announcing that middle school sports won't vanish next year, as originally planned.


TO:                 All Middle School Principals
THRU:            Hugh Hattabaugh, Chief Operating Officer
                        Sue Doran, Interim Athletic Director

FROM:           LaTarzja Henry, Executive Director, Communications

DATE:            June 23, 2011

RE:                 Update on Middle School Athletics

ACTION:       Communicate middle school sports changes

Funding for middle school athletics was cut from the 2010-2011 budget. However, we were able to fund it in 2010-2011 using high school and middle school participation fees, a $1 surcharge on high school ticket sales and community donations. In the spring, it again appeared that middle school athletics would be eliminated because a portion of the participation fees in high schools were needed to pay for high school sports. This did not leave enough money to fully fund middle school sports.

Since then, the district has identified a way to fund selected middle school sports for the 2011-2012 school year. We will share our plans with the CMS community on Wednesday, June 29. The hybrid model offerings are:

o        Fall Season 2011:
§         Boys football
§         Girls cheerleading
§         Girls volleyball
o       Winter Season 2011-2012:
§         Boys basketball
§         Girls basketball
§         Girls cheerleading
o       Spring Season 2012:
§         Boys track & field
§         Girls track & field
These sports were selected based on high participation in recent years. They also meet Title IX requirements. For the 2011-2012 school year, softball, baseball, soccer and golf will not be offered. In order to ensure that principals and executive staff are informed, attached to this memo you will find:

  • Frequently Asked Questions: Please share this document with your athletic directors.

  • Sample Parent Letter from Principal: This letter may be tailored and distributed by principals to alert parents to the changes with back-to-school communications materials. Parents should not be informed of this change until the announcement is made on June 29.

  • Sample ConnectED Message: Principals are responsible for sending a ConnectED message at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29. A sample ConnectED message is attached.

In addition, principals need to:

·        Hire athletic directors and coaches, who are generally 10-month teachers receiving stipends but may also be non-faculty members receiving stipends only
·        Update the school website no later than July 14 to list only the sports to be offered 
·        Send a ConnectED message to families at 7 p.m. on June 29
·        Include a parent letter detailing changes to athletics in back-to-school communications material
This information will be released to the public at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 29.

Thank you.

c:                      Executive staff

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

CMS: Two weeks to transfer

The latest twist in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools job shakeup is a new chance for employees to seek available positions starting Friday. According to a memo sent today, openings will trickle out throughout June, as CMS figures out what jobs will survive in the 2011-12 budget. District leaders planned for about 1,500 jobs to be cut and notified hundreds of people that their jobs could disappear, but then restored many of them after county commissioners bumped up the budget last week.

Here's the update:

From: cmscommunications
Sent: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 11:07 AM
To: cmsmailall
Subject: Transfer Opportunities

As of Friday, June 17, CMS employees will have an opportunity to apply for new positions throughout the district when we begin to post available positions and accept applications.

This opportunity is different from earlier years. The application process is not a general transfer fair. There are new procedures for applying for a position, and we will share details about the procedures later this week. One important change: Not all available jobs will be posted at once. Some will be posted on Friday, and daily updates of the postings will follow.

As part of the posting process, employees will be given priority in application but not necessarily in hiring decisions. We will give employees the opportunity to apply first for these jobs, and then we will choose the strongest candidates to fill them.

The decision to begin posting jobs was made following the announcement that Mecklenburg County would give CMS $26 million more than the district originally expected. The $26 million will cover two items in Tier 4 of the proposed cuts, and will provide partial funding for a third item.

The $26 million will cover the funding needed to keep our weighted student staffing formula at the current level, and to keep class sizes at current levels. Those two items add up to about $24 million. The remaining $2 million will be applied toward the $11 million needed to avoid cutting one support position at each school.  

The status of funds to cover the proposed cuts in Bright Beginnings classes and teacher assistant positions has not been determined because we do not have the final state budget numbers. When we get that information,  we will share it.

The application process is scheduled to close on June 30. If you are interested in applying for a job in one of the postings, please be sure to check your  CMS email regularly throughout the rest of June for updates and more information.

Thank you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

CMS: Who's saved, who's not

Even before Superintendent Peter Gorman dropped his bombshell, Wednesday's special school board meeting had reporters in turmoil, trying to figure out exactly what the "no layoffs" announcement meant. Normally the public relations staff would have been all over that, but the news that the boss is leaving does tend to divert time and energy.

Plenty of people have been trying to parse out exactly what the county's extra $26 million means for schools. Here's an explanation sent this afternoon. -- Ann Doss Helms
                                                                                      MEDIA RELEASE

County funding will avoid some layoffs at CMS, but not all

            CHARLOTTE, N.C., June 10, 2011 – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be able to keep 570 educators, including 406 classroom teachers, because of an additional $26 million in county funding. However, district officials cautioned that layoffs may still be needed, depending on the final state budget.

The $26 million will be applied to three items in Tier 4 of the district’s proposed budget, which included about $101 million in proposed cuts. The items included teachers related to weighted student staffing, class size and instructional support staff in schools. By design, the fourth tier includes the reductions most likely to affect student achievement. District leadership told the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners during budget talks in June that any additional funding would be applied to Tier 4, starting at the bottom of the tier and working up.

“We will use the $26 million just as we told the county that we would,” said Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh. “The $26 million will mean we don’t have to increase class sizes and we don’t have to change our weighted-student staffing formula. Together those two items add up to $24 million – and we’ll apply the remaining $2 million to the next item in the tier, which is support staff in schools.”

The remaining items in Tier 4 that the county money did not cover are a reduction of 328 teacher assistants and a reduction in the number of Bright Beginnings classes offered by CMS.

“We do not know whether we will have to make the additional reductions in Tier 4 yet,” Hattabaugh said. “It will depend on the state funding and we won’t know that until the state budget is final.”

District officials expect to have final state numbers by the end of June. The state budget appears likely to be resolved sooner than it has been in earlier years, so CMS could have those numbers earlier than usual.

The district’s proposed budget included eliminating 1,687 positions. The county funding has allowed the district to preserve 406 teacher positions and some support staff. If funding allows the district to keep its current number of Bright Beginnings pre-kindergarten classes with associated staffing and the 328 teacher assistants scheduled for reduction in Tier 4, that would bring the number of positions cut to about 600, Hattabaugh said. Final numbers won’t be available until the state funding is certain, which will be later in the summer.

The district has decided to close the pre-kindergarten centers where Bright Beginnings has been offered. If Bright Beginnings is not cut, then the classes will move to other district schools, he said. Teachers will not lose their jobs if that occurs, but other school staff may.

“While we’re relieved not to have to cut more teachers, we’ve still had to cut hundreds of positions from the budget,” Hattabaugh said. “We have had a reduction in force for the past three years and that has meant some very effective district employees have lost their jobs.”


Read Jones' letter, CHS's response

A potentially damaging rift between Mecklenburg County and its largest hospital system has just grown wider.

Claiming Carolinas HealthCare System has breached its contract, Mecklenburg Manager Harry Jones said in a letter to hospital system CEO Michael Tarwater that the county will halt its payments to the multi-billion-dollar hospital system until it provides requested data. Read the Jones letter by clicking here

But CHS officials say they have not breached the agreement - and are disappointed that the county appears to be throwing its longstanding relationship with the hospital system "to the curb." Click here to read a statement from the hospital -- AMES ALEXANDER AND APRIL BETHEA

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Davis: "An opportunity to build upon our current success"

Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board Chair Eric Davis said the search for a new superintendent to succeed Peter Gorman will be "an opportunity to build upon our current success towards a better future."

In a message to CMS employees, Davis said the school board will meet June 15 to start the process for naming an interim leader and to discuss how they'll find a new superintendent. Read the full message below.

"We will find an interim superintendent and then begin the search for our next superintendent. I am proud of the progress our students have made because of your efforts the past five years," Davis wrote. "I also believe that we have much more to do. I am confident that all of us – teachers, support staff, executive staff, other district employees and Board members – will continue to work toward our shared vision of academic achievement for all CMS students."

From: cmscommunications
Date: June 8, 2011 5:32:13 PM EDT
To: cmsmailall
Subject: A message from Eric Davis

Dear CMS teammates,

Superintendent Peter C. Gorman announced his resignation during a Board meeting earlier today. In addition to the change in our district because of the financial downturn, we now face a change of leadership with Dr. Gorman’s departure. I see this as an opportunity to build upon our current success towards a better future.

We will find an interim superintendent and then begin the search for our next superintendent. I am proud of the progress our students have made because of your efforts the past five years. I also believe that we have much more to do. I am confident that all of us – teachers, support staff, executive staff, other district employees and Board members – will continue to work toward our shared vision of academic achievement for all CMS students.

I know that we will succeed, despite the change in leadership, because our school district has so many tremendous assets that are enduring. We have teachers who are dedicated and hardworking. We have principals who are strong, high-performing leaders. We have parents who are committed to CMS and passionate about their children’s education. We have an executive staff with great expertise and knowledge. These are the assets that will help us meet whatever challenges lie ahead.

Like any public school district, CMS is a collective effort. CMS succeeds because of its broad, diverse base of participants and support – students, parents, teachers, principals, leaders and the community. The Board of Education will tap into that commitment to help us find the right leader to succeed Dr. Gorman. The Board leadership is committed to thoughtful, informed and inclusive community discussion about our schools, to include our CMS staff, and we will take the time needed to be sure those conversations take place.

All of us on the Board remain committed to the CMS mission to maximize achievement for every student in every school. We have great faith in you, the employees of the district and we admire the steadfast service you have given our students, particularly during the recent hard times. We know that our teachers are the reason for our academic success and we commit to engage and collaborate with you as we chart our future. We know that our principals are the frontline leaders, the backbone of our district and the force that holds our schools together. We know that our executive staff will provide steady, reassuring leadership during this time of transition.

The Board of Education will meet June 15 to begin the process of choosing an interim superintendent and to shape how we will select the next superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Eric C. Davis
Chairperson, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

News Corp: CMS' Gorman to join education division

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman this afternoon announced his resignation effective Aug. 15. Gorman will become the senior vice president of the education division of News Corp. in New York.

According to a news release -- which you can read in its entirety below -- Gorman will "work with school districts to implement the division’s programs, as well as review their integrity and effectiveness." The education division is led by Joel Klein, the former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education.

“I’m thrilled to join News Corporation, and to work with someone of Joel’s caliber, and the rest of his team, to transform the educational system through digital technology and other means,” Gorman says in the release. “News Corporation has a reputation for leading significant change across many industries, and I look forward to what lies ahead for the education sector.” -- APRIL BETHEA


News Corporation Makes Key Management Appointments
to its Education Division

Former Chief Operating Officer, New York City Department of Education, Kristen Kane named COO; Former Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Dr. Peter Gorman named Senior Vice President

NEW YORK, NY, June 8, 2011 – News Corporation today announced that Kristen Kane, former Chief Operating Officer, New York City Department of Education and Dr. Peter Gorman, former Superintendent, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will take on leadership roles at its newly formed Education Division.

Ms. Kane will become Chief Operating Officer of the group, responsible for driving operations and strategy. Dr. Gorman will be named Senior Vice President and work with school districts to implement the division’s programs, as well as review their integrity and effectiveness.

News Corporation’s Education Division is focused on individualized, technology-based content and learning opportunities that support world class student and teacher performance, as well as digital assessment tools for K-12 students in the United States that help eliminate the achievement gap. News Corporation recently acquired Brooklyn-based education technology company, Wireless Generation.

“Pete and Kristen are recognized leaders in their field and each brings particular strengths to bear on our growing business,” said Joel Klein, CEO of News Corporation’s Education Division. “Pete’s success running one of the largest schools systems in the United States, combined with his commitment to educational innovation are the perfect complement to our mission. Furthermore, Kristen’s proven leadership in shaping and running many of the New York City Department of Education’s best programs will benefit us greatly over the years to come.”

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with Joel and his team in this capacity,” said Ms. Kane. “I strongly believe there are more efficient and effective ways to improve the system, and I’m eager to get started.”

“I’m thrilled to join News Corporation, and to work with someone of Joel’s caliber, and the rest of his team, to transform the educational system through digital technology and other means,” said Dr. Gorman. “News Corporation has a reputation for leading significant change across many industries, and I look forward to what lies ahead for the education sector.”

Ms. Kane brings a range of experience in both the public and private sectors. At the New York City Department of Education, she served as Chief Operating Officer and was responsible for the development and implementation of the Bloomberg administration’s reform strategy as well as oversight of daily operations.

She also served as Chief Executive of the Office of New Schools, which opened 178 new schools and charters in New York City under her leadership. At the Federal Communications Commission, she served as a Director of the National Broadband Plan developing strategies for applying broadband technologies in the education, healthcare, and energy sectors. Earlier in her career, Kristen worked in equity research at JPMorgan covering the education sector. She holds an MBA and Certificate in Public Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a BA from Yale.

As Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent for the past five years, Dr. Gorman led one of the nation’s largest school districts with more than 138,000 Pre-K through 12th grade students, 17,700 staff members and a budget of more than $1.15 billion. This year, the school district has been selected as one of four finalists for the Broad Prize for Urban Education. Dr. Gorman has also served as Superintendent of the Tustin (CA) Unified School District and as both Chief Information Officer and Chief Operating Officer/Business and Finance of the Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida. He holds a Doctorate of Education from the University of Central Florida and an MBA from Rollins College.

News Corporation (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NWS, NWSLV) had total assets as of March 31, 2011 of approximately US$60 billion and total annual revenues of approximately US$33 billion. News Corporation is a diversified global media company with operations in six industry segments: cable network programming; filmed entertainment; television; direct broadcast satellite television; publishing; and other. The activities of News Corporation are conducted principally in the United States, Continental Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, Asia and Latin America.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gorman: Trying to avoid layoff angst

Superintendent Peter Gorman emailed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools employees today to explain why a layoff vote has been delayed two days, to a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Government Center (it's open to the public).

If county commissioners approve an additional $26 million, as expected, the job cuts won't be as drastic as what Gorman and the board have been talking about. "We don’t want to notify employees that they are losing their jobs, then have to rescind that," Gorman writes. "We don’t want to put our employees through any more anxiety than is necessary and we’re glad our Board is deferring this vote."

Here's the whole memo:
From: "Peter C. Gorman" <>
Date: June 6, 2011 4:48:19 PM EDT
To: cmsmailall <>
Subject: Budget update
Dear CMS employees,
As we move closer to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners’ vote on county funding for CMS, the situation continues to be very fluid. The county commissioners will vote tomorrow on our funding and this has led to a change in our schedule.
Our Board of Education was scheduled to vote tonight on the reduction in force, giving us the authority to move forward on it. But last week’s straw votes by the Board of County Commissioners suggest that we may get an additional $26 million over what we originally planned.
We don’t want to notify employees that they are losing their jobs, then have to rescind that. So instead of voting for the reduction in force at its meeting today, our Board will defer the vote on the reduction in force until Wednesday. By then, we expect to know for certain what our county funding will be.
We don’t want to put our employees through any more anxiety than is necessary and we’re glad our Board is deferring this vote. The past three years have been so difficult for all CMS employees, our students and their families -- and this year in particular has been hard because we’re closing some schools. So it seems wise to wait and see what our county funding will be. Our Board will meet in a special open session at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
The county vote will resolve some of the uncertainty for all of us. We are still waiting on a budget from the state, of course, so we don’t know our full budget yet. But we are hoping that we’ll get some good news from the county tomorrow night.
We’ll continue to keep you posted as events occur.
Peter C. Gorman
Government Center
600 East 4th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
980-343-6270 -- phone
980-343-7135 -- fax

Friday, June 3, 2011

Read the indictment against John Edwards

 The indictment is the culmination of a secretive federal probe that has been going on for more than two years. The investigation has centered on allegations that donations to John Edwards were used to support Rielle Hunter, his former mistress and mother of his now-3-year-old daughter.



Pending Counts: Conspiracy, False Statements

Highest Offense Level: Felony

Read the indictment

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

GOP plan cuts tax rate, sends more to CMS

Mecklenburg's four Republican county commissioners rolled out a plan late Tuesday evening to cut spending far enough to lower the property tax rate by five cents. Read the proposal below

The proposal from commissioners Karen Bentley, Neil Cooksey, Bill James and Jim Pendergraph came hours before the county board is set to begin taking tentative votes on the 2011-12 budget. Bentley emailed the plan to the Observer late Tuesday.

The plan includes some $55.9 million in proposed cuts, but also would send an additional $15.4 million to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. That could help the district save 260 teaching positions.

Republican commissioners have long said they would not support a budget with a tax rate higher than the so-called revenue-neutral levy. That would let the county raise about the same amount of money through property taxes next year. The GOP proposal sets the tax rate at 78.45 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, which is just below the neutral level. -- APRIL BETHEA


GOP Propose ‘Revenue Negative’ Rate

Right –sized budget cuts tax rate 5.42 cents

Charlotte, NC (5-31-2011) – The Republican Caucus of the Mecklenburg Countybelow the ‘revenue neutral’ rate of 78.83 set by law. Here is a summary of the various proposed budgets: Board of Commissioners is proposing a budget that helps fund CMS teacher positions during the Great Recession while reducing the tax rate 5.42 cents below the current rate and lowering the burden of revaluation. The Republican Commissioners “revenue negative” rate can be achieved with right-sized budget cuts. The GOP budget increases funding for CMS $15,401,620 from the FY2011 budget to fund 260 high priority teaching positions while decreasing the Manager’s Budget overall by $43,523,119. The resulting tax rate is

  • Prior Year (2011) County Budget 83.87 tax rate $ 954,844,690
  • Manager’s Proposed (2012) Budget 82.49 tax rate Incr of $77,323,005 $1,032,167,695
  • Cogdell’s Proposed (2012) Budget 82.97 tax rate Incr of $75,997,406 $1,030,942,096
  • GOP’s Proposed (2012) Budget 78.45 tax rate Incr of $33,799,886 $ 988,644,576

So, how does this proposal balance the Mecklenburg County Budget, cut costs and increase funding to schools, while at the same time achieving a revenue negative tax rate? Here’s a summary:

  • Manager’s Proposed Budget (without CMS increase) $1,006,078,584
  • Increase in staff estimate for Sales Tax $ 3,000,000
  • Increase for CMS $ 15,401,620
  • Increase for DV and Sheriff $ 145,000
  • Decreases in other areas (see below) ($ 55,924,844)
  • GOP Proposed Budget $ 988,644,576

Highlights of the cost savings from the Manager’s proposed budget are as follows (speadsheet details to follow shortly):

  • Decrease funding for DSS as proposed by Commissioner Codgell, $2,000,000
  • Reduce proposed increase for OPEB’s (from $8 million), $2,500,000
  • Reduce proposed increase for employee 401k matches, $2,500,000
  • Reduce County funding for ‘retiree’ health costs, $2,350,000
  • Reduce “pay for performance” (raises) by ½, $2,100,000
  • Reduce proposed increase in “Capital Reserve,” $2,350,000
  • Reduce “CMC healthcare Contract,” $1,499,016
  • Reduce proposed increase for “Libraries,” $1,000,000
  • Reduce ”Substance Abuse” prohibiting taxpayer funding of multiple detox/yr, $3,000,000
  • Eliminate funding for new Outside Agencies (approx. total), $ 1,220,949
  • Eliminate proposed increase in Public Assistance, $2,656,839
  • Reduce proposed increase in County Training budget, $550,000
  • Reduce proposed increase in Technology Reserve, $500,000
  • Eliminate proposed increase in “Homeless Support Services,"$426,936

Items in red are those proposed by Commissioner Cogdell at varying amounts (except the first which the GOP and Commissioner Cogdell agree on – a cut of $2 million to DSS).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cogdell offers new Meck budget proposal

Mecklenburg commissioners now have another budget proposal to consider as Democrat Harold Cogdell rolled out his own plan Wednesday for how the county should spend money next year.

His proposal would lower the tax rate to 82.37 cents per $100 of assessed value -- 1.5 cents below the current levy and slightly lower than the one recommended by County Manager Harry Jones.

Meanwhile, Cogdell wants to give $34.4 million in additional money to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including a $10 million grant to be used specifically for the Bright Beginnings pre-K program. The program could be downsized under the district's budget depending on how much CMS gets from the county and state.

Other commissioners likely will craft their own budget plans in the coming days. Cogdell's appears to be one of at least four currently under consideration -- Jones', as well as one from Democrat and Chair Jennifer Roberts who wants to give CMS an extra $40 million partly by keeping the tax rate.

Meanwhile, board Republicans have long said they would not support a tax rate higher than the revenue-neutral levy of 78.83 cents.

Cogdell shared details of his budget proposal in an email to commissioners, county staff and the Observer. Here is the full text:

"Fellow Commissioners,

Please find attached my proposed county budget for all to consider. This proposed budget is above-revenue neutral and below rate neutral. The property tax rate needed to support this budget is .8237. It provides $34.4M to CMS above last year’s funded amount; maintains funding for the Bright Beginnings program; provides $1M extra to CPCC; reinstates merit pay raises and 401K matches for county employees; and reduces the current tax rate by 1 ½ cents (1/2 cents below what the manager has proposed). Please find attached a line item by line item spreadsheet of the entire county budget with my proposed changes.

Now that all relevant facts have been provided to our Board, I would encourage each of us to do the same with the straw vote spreadsheets provided by county staff. We are past the point of speaking in general terms about budget goals but each of us needs to be very specific about what line items we would fund, reduce or what revenue modifications or projections each of us would change in order to develop a balanced budget.

Please note that I have no intention of supporting either a tax rate neutral or revenue neutral budget. I am inclined to consider how we could identify further sound and thoughtful reductions that could result in an even lower tax rate. I am willing to meet with any Commissioner that is willing to not draw a line in the sand on revenue or rate neutral understanding that both positions border on the extreme.

It is so easy to say to community stakeholders and partners, if I had four more votes I would support your request. In the alternative, it is so easy to say I am only supporting a revenue neutral budget without identifying where reductions would be made. I am confident that we will all be transparent in this process, make clear where each of us stands on the many budget considerations and remain focused on adopting a responsible budget for Mecklenburg County.

The highlights of my proposed budget include the following:

  • 1% increase in sales tax revenue for FY12 above the manager’s recommended amount ($1.2M).
  • $1.6M reduction in CMS operating from the manager’s recommended amount.
  • $10M Grant to CMS to be used exclusively for the Bright Beginnings program. Please note that the $10M for the BB Grant is placed in line item #2 under CMS debt and does not reflect any desire on my part to add $10M to CMS debt service.
  • $1M increase in funding to CPCC above the manager’s recommended amount ($1.2M).
  • $300K reduction in funding to for the ASC Center for Arts & Technology from the manager’s recommended amount.
  • $2M reduction from the overall DSS budget to be determined by the manager’s office which equals a 3.5% departmental reduction. The proposed budget still results in a $400K increase in the DSS budget from FY11.
  • $2M reduction in the recommended OPED funding level.
  • $515K reduction in employee training – almost $1.5M remains in employee training funds.
  • $290K reduction in the Human Services Finance Division that funds 8 instead of 12 new finance positions.
  • $1.75M reduction from the manager’s recommended capital reserve ($8.5M remains in the reserve).
  • $350K reduction from the manager’s recommended technology reserve ($4.4M remains in the reserve).
  • $450K reduction from the manager’s recommended budget to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office (reductions to be determined at the discretion of the Sheriff). This equates to a ½ of 1% of the departmental budget.
  • $499K of the $1.5M Carolinas Healthcare System Contract for services provided through the Mecklenburg County Health Department.
  • No changes to the manager’s recommended funding level to the PLCMC (Library).

Please note that the above listed modifications are the highlights and is not a comprehensive list of every proposed change to the manger’s recommended budget.

Harold Cogdell, Jr.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner At-Large

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How high could some Meck tax bills rise?

More than half of the Mecklenburg households facing higher taxes under County Manager Harry Jones' recommended 2011-12 budget would see their bills increase by up to 20 percent, newly-released figures show.

Four percent could see their tax bills more than double, the county analysis shows. See the chart by clicking here.

(Search the Observer's database to find out how much your tax bill could increase by clicking here )

Jones' budget proposes a tax rate of 82.49 cents per $100 of assessed value. That's just over a penny less than the current rate, but would be applied to the new -- and in many cases, higher -- property tax values mailed earlier this year.

Mecklenburg officials previously said 185,127 households, or about 57 percent in the county, would pay more under Jones' proposal.

Of those, about 57 percent, or 105,178 households, would see their bills increase by up to 19.99 percent, according to information sent to county commissioners on Monday.

Another 30,329 households would see their bills increase between 20- and 20.99 percent.

Meanwhile, 4.1 percent could see their bills go up by more than 100 percent. -- APRIL BETHEA

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Roberts: $40m more to CMS, flat tax rate

Mecklenburg County Commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts issued a statement late Wednesday saying she wants to keep the same property tax rate next year and send an extra $40 million to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 2011-12.

Read the full statement, which Roberts sent to the Observer, below.

Roberts said she also wants to give Central Piedmont Community College $2.5 million, and backed a plan to give more to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library to avoid more branch closings.

County Manager Harry Jones unveiled a budget recommendation on Tuesday that would give CMS $26 million more for operations, which is just over half what the school board requested. His plan would lower the tax rate by just over one penny, but most taxpayers would pay more next year because most home values rose in the county's reappraisal. - APRIL BETHEA


MAY 18, 2011

I advocate a County budget that keeps our tax rate where it is (83.87 cents per $100 value) to help close a budget gap created by a severe loss in state education funding. I know this will create a higher tax cost for many in our county because of the recent revaluation, but I simply cannot support cutting 1,000 more teachers from our schools, eroding the academic gains we have made, and setting back our education system by decades. I believe that further cuts to CMS will cost our community more in the long run and it is for this reason that the budget I support is strong in education, including increased support for CMS, CPCC, and the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Even by keeping the current tax rate we cannot fully stave off reductions in teachers and personnel, especially in pre-school, but we can at least bring County funding for CMS back to the level it was in 2008, when the system had 6,000 fewer students.

This is an extraordinary time for our community. We have weathered the worst recession since World War II, and for the past three years have made deep cuts to county government and CMS as well as our nationally known community college, Central Piedmont, and our once nationally known public library system.

In the entire time that I have been a commissioner, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners has always placed education at the top of its priorities. In every public forum I have participated in this year, our citizens have told me that education is a priority for them as well. This is because education is essential to the future success of our entire community. It prepares workers for those companies that continue to move and expand here; it provides self sufficiency for residents who can support themselves with employment and avoid government assistance; and it provides the very basis of our democracy and our ability to have strong, accountable, and accessible government.

I propose a budget that funds these three elements at the following levels:
  • CMS: $340 million ($40 m increase, $14 million over Manager’s budget)
  • CPCC: $26.4 million ($2.5 m increase, $1 m over Manager’s budget)
  • Libraries: $ 23.4 million ($2.3 m increase, equal to Manager’s budget)

In addition to the rate neutral tax rate, which will bring in almost $14 million over the manager’s recommended budget, there are other adjustments that can be made to support this CMS amount. For example, we could help fund this education budget by waiting at least one more year to restore the 401(k) match for County employees (up to $5 million saved) or by funding County employee raises at 2% instead of 3% ($1 million saved).

We have made steady gains in academic achievement in our school system over the past 3 years, and have reduced the achievement gap at the same time. Yet we risk losing all that and more if we sustain the depth of cuts that CMS faces with level County funding for the next fiscal year, or even with $26 million more as recently recommended by our manager. A strong public education system benefits everyone, and a weak and declining system will hurt everyone, drive away potential employers, and jeopardize our future. I hope my colleagues and this community will stand with me as I support a strong education budget that puts our children and future first.

Jennifer Watson Roberts
Chairman, Mecklenburg County

Friday, May 13, 2011

Merchant/James email battle: Trying again

Some of you no doubt wonder what's going on with yesterday's blog on the fiesty email exchange between Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Trent Merchant and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James. About the time that readers were getting interested and weighing in, comments shut down, then the blog itself disappeared.

No, we didn't censor the item. There have been massive problems at that started late yesterday afternoon and are just getting resolved. The site status report promises that yesterday's blogs will reappear at some point. (Update: the original blog has been restored without comments; I hope those will be recovered, too.) For now, here's the background on the issues that sparked the exchange.

And here are the emails, with a response by James that landed in my inbox shortly after shut down. -- Ann Doss Helms

From: Bill James []
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:44 AM
To: Trent Merchant
Subject: CMS nightmare tax increase

CMS Nightmare tax increase

5-4 school board vote would force tax increases on 144,000 additional Meck citizens
Citizens already receiving tax increase at 'revenue neutral' will be hammered harder

CMS district 6 rep Tim Morgan is swing vote for tax increase
District 6 receives most tax increases of all County Commission districts

For some time, there has been a push to 'leave the tax rate the same' at 83.87 cents).

Chairman Roberts and other D's have pushed for it but for the most part there has not been any hard evidence of the pain it would inflict on citizens here in Mecklenburg.

Yesterday, at my request from several months back, County staff outlined how many people would be hammered if the tax rate stayed the same (sometimes called 'rate' neutral).

To begin with, even at 'revenue neutral' 157,966 households would have a tax increase ('revenue neutral' is dropping the rate to 78.83 cents). I think that rate is too high and believe we need a 'revenue negative budget'.

As bad as raising taxes on 157,966 households (630,000 people approx), IF the rate stayed the same (at 83.87 cents) an additional 36,128 households (aboutr 144,000 more people) would receive a tax increase.

On top of that, the folks who received a 'moderate' tax increase (if there is such an animal) at 'revenue neutral' would be hammered into Mecklenburg's red clay dirt.

A 5% tax hike would turn into a 27% tax hike. If at revenue neutral your tax hike is already 30%.... well, you can do the math.

It would be brutal. Revenue Neutral is already a brutal tax increase which is why I believe the Commission needs a revenue negative budget to lower the extreme tax increases within that pool of 157,966 households (630,000 people).

I am still waiting on that report to come in.

The school board voted to ask for $50 million with the District 6 Republican Tim Morgan (brother of Charlotte Chamber head honcho Bob Morgan) casting the deciding vote for this tsunami of a tax increase.

I note that in terms of the number households with a tax increase by District the order is (at revenue neutral):

District 6 38,074 REPUBLICAN
District 5 36,599 REPUBLICAN
District 1 34,813 REPUBLICAN

District 2 17,594 DEMOCRAT
District 3 15,909 DEMOCRAT
District 4 14,953 DEMOCRAT

It makes me wonder why the Republican from District 6 (which already will have the MOST tax increases in the whole county) would vote to make the matter worse for those in his district when almost all of the money raised by giving CMS $50 million more would benefit people in other districts.

There will be those that say he is looking at the bigger picture or helping out the less fortunate. All good qualities but in the end I think it is because the Chamber wants the increase.

Ultimately, Mecklenburg County citizens can not afford what Tim Morgan, the CMS school board majority and the power elite in Charlotte are dishing out.

If you sit on your hands next week at the public hearing (19th) don't be surprised if your property taxes go up 50%.

The link below is a PDF posted on my web site of the info from the County.

From: Trent Merchant
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 10:38 PM
To:; Tim Morgan
Cc: Eric C. Davis;
Subject: RE: CMS nightmare tax increase

Bill - I want to thank you for your hard work and for yet another installment of your hard-hitting analyses on vital topics via e-blast.

And thank you for reminding me to focus on those things that are most dangerous to my quality of life, rather than simply enjoying said quality of life. Based on your previous missives, I have spent many hours in recent years watching my back, lest African-Americans emerging from the depths of the moral sewer might try to harm me - and watching my backside when I take my children to local parks, certain that I will accosted by marauding packs of gays.

Now I realize that our greatest threat has been right under our noses all along - and its name is Tim Morgan. To think that I believed all of his corn-pone talk about fishing, camping, Boy Scouts, his faith, and his children... Morgan the Megalomaniac has deceived us all as he has found a way to single-handedly raise my taxes, despite the fact that the School Board has no taxing authority. How dare he!

My feeble memory of last night's meeting was that, after 7 months of discussion, a majority of the board voted on an initial budget request to reduce overall funding to CMS by about $64 million. And I could have sworn that when he made the budget motion, Tim Morgan specifically called on state legislators to do their part in protecting funding for public education. And I thought that when he called on the county to restore a significant amount of funding, he was thinking about the schools in the district that you share with him - you know the one where class sizes are already large and will get even larger next year - where your constituents will lose 2/3 of the elementary teaching assistants, many of whom have masters degrees, who have all the qualifications to be teachers except for formal certification - and where 1 key staff member will be cut from every school.

But after reading your clarifying missive, I realize that everything was up in the air until Tim cast his dramatic vote. And I see that Tim has been little more than a sinister puppet controlled by elitists like his big brother. How could I have missed all the signs of the intra-family psychological beat-down that has surely been decades in the making? When Bob Morgan went to head the Gastonia Chamber of Commerce some years ago, we should have recognized that he was going big-time on us... why didn't you warn us then, Bill?

Bill - I understand that before becoming a full-time local politician whose livelihood depends on being re-elected every 2 years, you were a CPA with a reputable firm - so maybe you can help me with a potential cash flow problem that I see developing at home. The recent reval increased the tax value of my modest middle class home by 36%. If the County Commission leaves the tax rate the same, I will pay $108.86 more per year in property taxes than I would if you went to a revenue neutral rate - that is more than $9.07 per month! Sir, this is an outrage! How will we make ends meet in my home? I understand that my children and their peers are important, and that strong public schools lead to a more viable workforce, stronger tax base, and lower crime rate over time - but at what cost? Surely not $108.86.

I look forward to your continuing insight on this and related matters.

And if you do not have insight to share, I remain confident that you will continue to weigh in on other topics on which you feel the urge to incite and inflame. We are all counting on you.

In humble gratitude,
Trent Merchant
CMS Board of Education, At Large

-----Original Message-----
From: William F. James, Jr [
Sent: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 10:52 PM
To: 'Trent Merchant'; 'Tim Morgan'
Cc: 'Eric C. Davis'; ''; 'Don Reid'; ''; 'Jeff Taylor'; mark pellin; Dan Bishop
Subject: RE: CMS nightmare tax increase

Trent -
I think if the guy representing the folks bearing the brunt of most of the tax increases in Mecklenburg wants to vote for that tax increase it is between him and the voters. Who am I to get in the middle of that except to point out that it occurred and he was the lone Republican doing so.

As for your $108.86 potential tax increase - glad you think it is paltry.

I wonder if the public agrees. Using your logic all 194,000 should be pleased with your decision last night.

I got a call from someone in Plaza-Midwood. They had a 117% increase in the value of their house. They are not the only ones.

I think your deficit problem is not with your cash flow.

Tim can defend himself even if his vote isn't particularly defensible.]