Friday, September 24, 2010

What cut? CMS budget up $10 million

After months of drama over massive budget cuts and layoffs, the bottom line for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is in:

The budget grew.

CMS's 2010-11 budget of $1.15 billion is up almost $10 million over the budget approved last fall. It's $16.7 million more than actual spending for 2009-10.

And that's not even counting the $20.5 million in federal jobs money CMS socked away for next year, riling folks who wanted the district to hire teachers now.

Chief Finance Officer Sheila Shirley knows that's jarring. After all, CMS cut more than 1,000 jobs based on projections that this year's budget could shrink by tens of millions of dollars. The district laid off hundreds of teachers based on worst-case scenarios, then rehired many of them when state and county cuts weren't as bad as expected.

She notes that $10 million, a hefty chunk of change for most people, is less than a 1 percent hike in the overall budget. She explains that much of the increase had to go toward rising costs, such as retirement, insurance and opening two new high schools, which required CMS to pull money from elsewhere. Enrollment is growing, which drives up spending as well.

And in fairness, Shirley and Superintendent Peter Gorman always said they were planning for the worst and hoping for the best, and that the dire scenarios were estimates based on a shaky economic picture. By the time the school board adopted a budget earlier this month, state money was roughly flat over the previous year, while county money was down. The budget growth was driven by a late-breaking influx of federal cash.

Still ... no budget cut at all?

That's got to rankle to employees who lost jobs, families whose kids are in bigger classes and teachers who must cope with all the turmoil. For most folks living through this recession, a cut doesn't require fine-print explanations. It just means less money.

No matter how earnest CMS officials were in their efforts to project, plan and explain, there's bound to be a bit more skepticism next time around.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ann,
The superintendent's scruples and compassion were removed long ago and currently on display by underlings wary of being thrown under the bus. It's the way he's been given free reign by the inept school board that's so grating. The influx of all the new data directives thrown at teachers in the last four weeks is a prime example. CMS has such an antiquated computer system it has to be rebuilt to accept all the new software over the next two weekends to try and catch up with semi current standards and then hope users can figure out programs with no training.

Mike said...

Thanks Ann. Your conclusion about projecting a budget when much is still unknown is correct. The resason the state budget contribution remained about flat is because Bev redirected some lottery money from the contribution to the counties to the public school oerating budget. Bottom line now is that the county is probably the one short the $10million and due to the county's optimistic revenue projection, the county will probably ask for $10million to $20million back within a few months, 6 on the outside. Be best that "Pete" saved that $20million federal so he can pay the county back.

Anonymous said...

There are more students and more fixed costs with the opening of 2 high schools. And the budget is propped up by federal money that goes away next year - so most of the cuts are really redirections to soothe the pain of cuts from the state and the inevitable county reversion. I thought spending per student was down?

budgetwatcher said...

The retirement rate was essentialy an unfunded mandate from the state

wiley said...

...all the while those NOT on FRL keep getting hosed for pay to play and paying for AP/IB tests.

Both of these need to go back to being paid by CMS if there is no budget crunch.

Anonymous said...

1000 teacher's jobs cut+ scare tactics of a $50 million cliff+ 35-45 students crowded in one room =a budget up of $10 million.

Firing of experienced effective teachers+ replacing with least experienced (TFA's)in the most needed schools+shuttle stops for Magnet schools due to budget= Closing of schools due to low performance or lack of enrollment.

Something does not add up here!?

Anonymous said...

Please investigate why teachers -- besides teaching larger classes -- are now having to cover classes for teachers who are out sick/out on maternity leave/or vacant positions.(Example: soon-to-be-open 6th grade science position at Coulwood Middle School--no available science teachers in the entire system!) Teachers are being told to forgo their planning time because there aren't enough substitutes! In an economy with 10% unemployment that claim is absurd. CMS is simply saving money on the back of teachers. 10 Million for WHAT?! Perhaps teachers need to invite the AFT here to unionize!

Anonymous said...

The other poster speaking of covering classes and such... this is exactly the type of thing that is happening all over CMS. At many schools they have to cover other classes, do "lunch duty" and give up their lunch to supervise lunchrooms, so teachers stand there eating lunch and supervising students in the lunchroom. Class sizes are 40, 41, 42... one class my son mentioned is 46 at his school. It's deplorable. They talk and talk about improving performance. You can't do that with 40 kids in a class. Retain the good teachers with excellent pay, keep the class sizes down & you'll see the magic happening.

Mike said...

To the previous poster, I will bet your son is NOT at one of those schools they desire to improve preformance. Only if you view closing the achievement gap as now lowering the upper end by overcrowding classes and schools and not filling teacher slots.

Anonymous said...

Covering classes has been going on at CMS since the 1990s. I never had a lunch and had hall duty between each period. During my planning period I hid in the back corner of the room with the lights off. I would ignore the office calling for me. This would happend pretty much everyday. I'm sorry, but I needed a break and a time to use the restroom since we pretty much we're allowed to any other time. I got my degree "up north" and the union required extra pay for hall duty, lunch duty, and when you lost your plannig period. Here they are able to abuse you to no end.

scott said...

McElrath: I go to football games and see players and cheerleaders all one race. "It would be nice if you would give diversity some kind of attention." No response.

McElrath I see race the Human race- I see tax payers and non tax payers! I am tired of these hacks in office trying to socialize everything and turn everything into a racial issue.

Dorne said...

I'm amazed and saddened watching all of this unfold. I really am. I understand the system is large and unwieldy, but I don't understand why, on top of all of these cuts, they're adding an entire new set of tests which will take more time from classroom teaching. It's absolutely stunning to me. They literally say one thing "we need to give teachers more autonomy and more classroom time" and then do another by turning around and taking it all away. Our children are used as guienea pigs and our teachers as robots who teach to the tests.It is time for our superintendent to be replaced with someone who will actually do what he or she says, and stop scaring the public, shutting down schools, and causing turmoil. I love my children's teachers and they are doing a great job- but my faith in the school system, the board, and the superintendent's ability to run the ship is less than zero.