Thursday, October 7, 2010
It's always been a bit tough to nail down the driving force behind this months-long student-assignment review. Sometimes academic reform seems to be foremost, sometimes cost, sometimes a desire to streamline or refocus the student assignment process. Sometimes everyone in the room seems to have a different idea.
In an interview yesterday, Davis said he plans to emphasize the prospect of budget cuts in 2011-12. Not only will millions in federal stimulus money disappear, he said, but the governor is warning school districts to prepare for a 5 percent to 15 percent cut. In CMS, that's $30 million to $90 million, which could mean another big round of teacher layoffs, Davis said.
He said he'd rather save money by closing half-filled buildings and merging schools. Superintendent Peter Gorman hasn't presented budget numbers for his proposed changes -- that's coming next week -- but rough estimates are that it costs about $500,000 a year to operate an elementary school, $700,000 for a middle school and $900,000 for a high school (that's not counting staff salaries).
"Every dollar we save in October helps us deal with the budget in April," Davis said. "Our intention is to preserve these teachers that we all value."
If Davis's mindset prevails with a board majority, folks hoping to change minds about Gorman's proposed plans could face a tough sell. Planners and board members have already said it's too late to launch new plans, so the best hope for people who don't like the current proposals will be to get the board to revise them slightly, delay them for further study or kill them entirely. Davis says he plans to warn people suggesting delay or defeat that "what you're saying is you'd rather lay off teachers."
But there are nine members voting on Nov. 9, and huge numbers of parents weighing in. We'll see how the next step plays out starting at 6 p.m. today at Hopewell High in Huntersville. Remember, each public forum will deal with a handful of proposals, rather than trying to plow through the whole list, which affects about 70 schools. Check the forum schedule to see which are up when; the most controversial one up today is the move to close Davidson IB Middle and relocate the IB magnet to Alexander Middle in Huntersville.
Update 11:45 a.m.: I have just changed the link to the forum schedule to reflect an updated location. Tuesday's session will be at the Government Center, not at West Charlotte High as the previous flier said. The new link will take you to an outdated news release, but scroll past that to get to the current schedule.
Also, as a blog poster discovered, CMS misspelled the email address for comments, so if you cut-and-paste your email will bounce back. They're correcting it. Meantime, use firstname.lastname@example.org