You can view the whole discussion here.
Notes for those trying to follow the math: Davis talks about $55 million more from the county and state. He says that's $45 million more than Gorman's request, which adds $10 million to this year's allotment. It's not yet clear whether any of that will come from the state. The job total in the Observer article includes the positions itemized below, plus 80 assistants in the Bright Beginnings classrooms that would be saved. The actual job total would likely be higher, as the pre-K centers now slated to close have administrators and other support staff. -- Ann Doss Helms
BOE Budget request April 26, 2011
Dr. Gorman, has your budget recommendation changed over the past 2 weeks? (Note from the Observer: Gorman said no.) With that the Budget is now fully in the hands of the Board of Education.
A fundamental financial problem confronting our school system is that we have to develop our budget before we have an understanding of the potential funding from the State and County. Moreover by State law, we have to start layoff notices before we request funding, much less know how much funding we will receive. It is a completely backwards and destructive process that in no way contributes to educating students in CMS or North Carolina. Even this late in the process, the projected State cuts range from $45 to $88mm. As a result, we have a process full of assumption and rework at best, a process full of misperception, mistrust and highly political at worst. Instead our students and teachers need a budget process in which the State, as the primary funder, determines its budget in the early spring which would enable the County, as an extension of State government, to pass its budget in time for the School district to inform our students and teachers of our plans by the end of the school year.
Nevertheless in the absence of a logical process, this Board must still determine what our students’ need. Our Superintendent has made a thoughtful recommendation given the realities that we face, a recommendation that assumes a 10% cut in State funding and a request of $10mm in additional local funding. That recommendation still requires $100mm in cuts that will be devastating and will create long term damage.
I believe that public education is the foremost responsibility of our State and local government and that the education of our students is not only the primary economic development engine for our economy, but the essential element of our safety and security as a democracy. And I believe that our public school students require greater funding than they currently receive which leads me to call upon my colleagues on the Board to join in asking from our fellow citizens in Mecklenburg County to begin restoring the $50mm in funding for our school system that was been cut over the past two years. I acknowledge the challenges of this request, that it may require a multiyear effort, that many citizens particularly those who live on fixed incomes will have a difficult time supporting this call. It will take sacrifice, but it is imperative that we begin now to reverse the steady retreat of reduced support for public education before we lose the gains that our students have made.
Over the past four years, thanks to heroic efforts of many of our teachers and the nurturing care of so many parents, our students have closed the achievement gap more than any other large urban district. In the 25 areas that our students are assessed, they have increased their proficiency in all 25. Five years ago we were accused of academic genocide when only 55% of our schools were achieving a year’s growth, today 95% of our schools are achieving a year’s growth and 108 are achieving high growth. It takes years of shoulder to the wheel, hard work to build this momentum; it can all be wiped out in one more year of damaging cuts. To preserve these gains, to continue to move forward, we need from our State and County education partners in 2011-2012, $55mm in additional funding to preserve the most critical elements of our system.
How will we invest this $55mm from the State and County?
· The first $15.4mm will preserve 260 classroom teachers in grades 4-12 in schools such as Albemarle Road, Myers Park, Ardrey Kell, Mint Hill and Bailey Road.
· The next $8.6mm will preserve 146 classroom teachers through our WSS (Note: That's Weighted Student Staffing, a formula for assigning additional teachers based on student poverty) strategy helping students at West Mecklenburg, Independence, West Charlotte, Myers Park, Sterling, and Hidden Valley.
· The next $11.1mm will save 164 instructional support, literacy and math specialists, helping students at schools such as Westerly Hills, Druid Hills, Shamrock Gardens, Sharon, Community House, in every school in the system.
· The next $9.2mm will sustain 328 teacher assistants in elementary schools across the district like Selwyn, Idlewild, Piney Grove, Landsdowne, and Winding Springs.
· Finally $10.4mm will preserve teachers for 80 preK classrooms and insure that not only will more of are our most vulnerable kindergarten students be prepared, but that their classmates who come kindergarten ready have a prepared student by their side.
Whether you live on Statesville Road, Albemarle Road, Providence Road, or Beatties Ford Road, this additional funding will benefit you.
Why am I convinced that our students need this support from our fellow citizens in Mecklenburg County? I need not remind our students of how their class sizes have exploded the past 3 years, or parents of how you have had to pay for AP exams and sports programs, and had to deal with the reduction in transportation services. Likewise, our principals and teachers have felt the loss of colleagues, teachers, teacher assistants, and assistant principals. But mostly our teachers have felt the loss of stability in their profession. While not all of these are completely attributable to a reduction in County funding, most are and all have been worsened by the decrease in local support.
For the past 11 months, we have been preparing for this day. We started in June reviewing our real estate portfolio, we set aside $20mm to reduce the Federal funding cliff, we were forced to fill schools to the brim and consolidate out of under filled and high cost buildings, we have reduced the number of our highest salaried executives as reported in last Sunday’s Observer, we directed our Superintendent to begin detailed budget planning 2 months early in January in order to give our community the opportunity to weigh in on solutions and we delayed some early decisions to afford more community participation. Recently, we took the controversial step of exploring managed competition as further evidence of our financial discipline and fiscal stewardship of your dollars. Over all, we have stretched our system to its full capacity and we can go no further without long term harm.
Every CMS student, teacher, parent, and citizen of Mecklenburg County will have their own individual reason to either refute or support our request. The one reason to support our request that ties us together as one is that it is in our own best self interest to have a strong public school system that is moving forward. I hope that you will join our cause for the students of today, tomorrow, and for those who 50 years from now will look back and thank us for taking a stand.