Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's the cost of new CPCC high schools?

Update: CMS has now posted applications that include budgets of $5.2 million for the first five years for each new school. That includes the value of tuition-free college courses the students are expected to take.  See the Harper proposal here and the Levine proposal here.

The school board is scheduled to vote tonight on creating two new "middle college" high schools on Central Piedmont Community College campuses.

But do members know how much money they're signing off to spend?  Under "fiscal implications,"  the agenda lists modular classrooms,  textbooks, principal and faculty.  But there are no dollar amounts.

Maybe I'm being picky here,  but I didn't think  "fiscal implications"  was supposed to be a yes-or-no question.  I thought the point was to disclose and discuss how much public money is at stake.

When Heath Morrison was hired to lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last summer,  he promised transparency.  When the board held a retreat last September,  most members said they had done a poor job of examining all the implications of their decisions and vowed to do better.

So what's up with the new small schools on the Levine and Harper campuses?  Is the board going to approve applications for the state's cooperative innovative high school program without knowing how much it costs to launch these schools?  Or is CMS withholding the information from the public?

On Friday and again on Monday, I emailed Board Chair Mary McCray,  Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark and Communication Chief Kathryn Block to ask about the cost and why it's not on the agenda.  Monday evening I got this explanation from Clark, still without specifics:  "The costs  associated with this program are funded from the local career technical education budget to cover textbooks and bus passes. Staffing is assigned based on the number of students and the state pays for a principal as long as the student count exceeds 100 students."

Morrison has been talking about expanding the middle college model for some time.  There are good reasons for cloning the approach that debuted with Cato Middle College High in 2007. But I have yet to hear the board conduct an in-depth public discussion of the pros,  cons,  costs and benefits of creating two more school that will serve about 200 juniors and seniors each.  Maybe they've held those talks privately,  or maybe it happened in a public forum I missed.  It seems like the kind of thing taxpayers,  employees and families might want to hear.


Anonymous said...

Will the CPCC instructors be licensed to teach high school students? Are the instructors full-time employees?

Wiley Coyote said...

Asking these kinds of questions needs to be for every item on the bond agenda.

For CMS, it's about buckets of money, misdirection, ambiguity and mushrooming the public. When you dare ask legitimate questions, you become the enemy.


Ann Doss Helms said...

8:28, high school classes are taught by CMS teachers and college classes are taught by CPCC instructors.

Anonymous said...

I am with Wiley on this one. NO BONDS for this simple fact. The Charlotte Chamber and some other tax payer funded agencies have found $300,000 to support a yes PR campaign. If they were truly vested in education they would put that into a school that needs it. Say no to the hand in the cookie jar. VOTE NO BONDS-
Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...

I would also like to know the top 5 reasons for spending money to expand MIE to a full K-8 when they will have to bring in mobiles to do it, plus there are no athletic facilities at the school.

MIE sits on 16.01 acres of land, Paw Creek Elementary which is less than 1 1/2 miles from MIE and the same distance to Coulwood as MIE, sits on 26.71 acres and Coulwood Middle sits on 30.45 acres.

Since Coulwood has almost double the land space than MIE and already has athletic facilities in place, why is it more economical to turn MIE into a K-8 than Coulwood?

From the CMS report:

~ Add K-8 program to Mountain Island, growing a grade each year starting with sixth grade (will maintain school-wide STEM focus).

~ No athletics at Mountain Island K-8; may participate at Coulwood.

~ Will result in smaller enrollment at Coulwood.

~ Use mobile units for grades expansion in grades six –eight.

This seems ridiculous to me. Why not make Coulwood the K-8 and use MIE as another magnet school or traditional elementary?

So does anyone have a cost comparison/rationale for this proposed move?

Anonymous said...

One unmentioned fact is the current CTE leadership (a true oxymoron.) Even though much of the CTE funding is federal, CMS (the usual individual suspect's names can be inserted here) always find ways to creatively redistribute funding to their pet projects without any protest. While Cato may be a success, an evaluation of the CMS/CPCC programs at PLC and Cochrane would be very helpful as well.

Anonymous said...

As a CMS CTE teacher, I think the CTE budget should not take any financial hit for a limited-reach program while the majority of CMS CTE classrooms sit underfunded and under-prepared to service the thousands of CMS students we are assigned each school year. This is another negative reflection on the current CMS CTE leadership which continues to fund pipe dreams while looking out his Walton Plaza window at the CTE teachers begging in the streets for enough textbooks and equipment to conduct class each day.

Anonymous said...

Now I understand why I was told that my CTE class was not getting any of the supplies I needed to teach my course. We were told in a meeting that all funding was taken from CTE for pet projects. I guess I will have to turn to Donor's Choose or panhandling. I work two jobs to pay my bills and feed my family. I won't work a third for curriculum supplies.

BolynMcClung said...


I find Mr. Hurley’s argument for voting against the bonds unconvincing.

Over the last three years CMS has done everything in its power to maintain teacher positions in the face of a shrinking economy and a General Assembly that seems to believe that it is the teachers’ fault. This bond money is for the places teacher will work and students can learn comfortably. The bond money is greatly needed.

At every turn CMS has fought the good fight for student achievement. Every negative piece of General Assembly legislation was vigorously fought. That shows CMS is a great community asset.

When the County created an alternate method for rating construction, CMS keep the communications open in trying to get construction money in places that matched real growth patterns. It worked to some degree and I feel certain that down the road, the County and CMS will be more aligned on where student growth is occurring and what needs to be done to keep growth a positive characteristic in Mecklenburg.

I find nothing in the School Board’s behavior that gives reason for the community to strike against it. It brought us a Superintendent like no other. It has a great leadership team in Ms. Mary McCray and Mr. Tim Morgan. There have been no surprises.

As to the financial request itself, I’m please it is being presented as a fiscally responsible package. I’ve watched over the last six months as the scope of the bond request has changed, and it did change many times. This package addresses the district’s most urgent needs.

Vote “Yes” for Bonds for CMS and CPCC on November 5th.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


The bond money isn't about "comfort". It's about maximizing your spend with as little outgo as possible and spending the funds where needed and NOT on wish projects.

We seemed to do fine after closing a bunch of schools. Graduation rates are through the roof and the sun came up this morning.

I'm not against spending money where needed, but we're opening up closed schools, wanting to add on to others, build replacement schools and build additional new schools.

I'm not convinced we need to do all this.


Anonymous said...

Bolyn , CMS cannot make a common sense decision on school start time to begin with . You show me how to get the horse before the cart then we can talk about Bonds. Look at a few of the folks on the board who are running for re-election. Take a look at their campaign donors. A HUGE conflict of interest that alone will turn folks off the bond vote. Their is at least one sitting member who sits on the Chamber board of advisors tell me is that not a conflict? That does not build trust and that is #1 job for Heath in the community. Its been over 1 year and not trust has been earned. Sip the Kool Aide very slowly they are serving you for it may spill. Keith W. Hurley
VOTE NO BONDS !!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I do not agree that the assembly said it was the teacher's fault. Their actions aren't good, but to say they said that is not constructive. Did the Dems say it was the teacher's fault when they gave no raises either.
You also said CMS did everything in its power. Reduce the few phys ed that are overpaid, eliminate assistant superintendents, have a few less schools with athletic programs, lobby to use breakfast money to help teachers instead, etc. You do not have to agree (or even do) every one of these and many more, but to say CMS BOE did everything in its power seems to be very, very simplistic.
Do you really feel this way, or is this your ploy to get elected?

Anonymous said...

Bolyn , You really look at Tim and Mary as leaders? Conflict Mary is on board of firm that had to come in to advise on Bell schedules. Heath is on the board of that company as well. Thats called your hand is in the cookie jar get it out !
I dont beleive that CMS student population is growing either since you are aware they lied of the number of students a few years ago. CMS closed over 10 schools a few years back to over crowd the staff/students. Bonds wont solve that since it would be 2020 before schools could be touched. No soup and NO BONDS for you. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...

We should look at implementing this model in every high school...

1. Target population – Please check the population(s) to be served.

XX High school students at risk of dropping out before acquiring a high school diploma.

XX High school students who would be defined as “first-generation college students”

XX High school students who would benefit from accelerated academic instruction.

Two criteria for enrollment at CATO:

~ Eligible students must have a minimum 2.5 unweighted cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA).

~ Eligible students must have an excellent behavior/discipline record for the past two years.

Why can't we implement those two requirements in every school?

Wiley Coyote said...

Forgot this bullet point:

~ Eligible students must have an excellent attendance record.

Anonymous said...

1 of my sons graduated from middle college. It's a fantastic program. Not a single disruptive kid. He finished with about 25 college credits. He's up at Appalachian State finishing his degree now.

Anonymous said...

Bet the CATO classes don't start at 7:15 am.

Phil said...

Wiley, good points. Every high school should operate this way.

Anonymous said...

I am a CTE teacher in CMS. There have been 40 plus students in my classes over the past three years. I am working without materials and technology to accomidate half of those students. I am basically doing the work now of TWO TEACHERS.

Thanks CMS and CTE for allocating the funds for classes of 10 to 15. My days and many of my fellow CTE teachers days are numbered in CMS.

Jimmy Chancey PLEASE RETIRE !

Anonymous said...

CTE teachers go get a job in private industry, otherwise shut up and sit down.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Chancey and the rest of the downtown CTE staff are worth less than the used pencil sitting on my classroom floor tonight.

That and the CMS communications department are the biggest waste of funds in NC.

Anonymous said...

Waste of funds?
Some BOE candidates say the CMS BOE has done "everything possible" to save money.