More than six months into the school year, I still can't tell you the poverty level, racial breakdown or school-by-school enrollment for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
The cause of that delay has become a point of contention between state and CMS officials.
Staff at the N.C. Department of Public Instruction agree that the troubled PowerSchool rollout delayed the principals' monthly reports that normally generate that information in September or October. CMS officials say several schools were unable to run those reports for months.
But state officials say the hold-up is no longer on their end. On Feb. 21, spokeswoman Vanessa Jeter said all the monthly reports had been run and the state was working with districts to clean up any final errors (a clean-up that was needed in 0.0031 percent of all monthly reports, she said).
Last Friday, she asked if I had gotten any numbers from CMS. "I understand that their PMRs have been run, numbers double-checked with NCDPI-CMS staff and all came up correct," she emailed. "That should clear the PMR issue in PowerSchool as far as I know."
Not so fast, says CMS. When I prodded again for the report, spokeswoman Kathryn Block said Scott McCully, executive director for student placement, had uncovered some additional concerns with the reports. "Scott is scrubbing the numbers one last time and, barring any additional issues, we will share the information early next week," she said.
"Also," she added, "DPI confirmed that GRS report is not functioning statewide so there is no grade, race or sex data to share at this time for any NC school district."
Huh? That has always been part of the 20th-day report released in September or October; each school and the district as a whole is broken down by grade level and race (poverty levels come in a separate report tallied in October).
Jeter and Philip Price, chief financial officer for DPI, say it's wrong to say there's no race/ethnicity data. There is a quirk having to do with reconciling end-of-month enrollment with average monthly enrollment, they say. That will be corrected during the next system maintenance weekend, March 14.
And the state is looking into about 8,000 students across the state who were once classified as Hispanic but are not this year. "That would represent .0053333 percent of the student body," Jeter reports.
Bottom line: We have a collision of two forces here. There's little doubt that PowerSchool has created a battery of problems for local districts. Meanwhile, Heath Morrison was hired as superintendent in 2012 on the heels of a series of CMS data errors that embarrassed leaders and hurt the district's credibility. He and his staff have been wary of releasing anything that isn't also available in state records, forestalling errors but also making it unusually difficult to get data we've all gotten used to finding at the click of a mouse. He says he doesn't want to post numbers only to have the state make a PowerSchool adjustment that requires CMS to retract its information.
So, as soon as I know what the numbers looked like last fall, I'll let the rest of you know.
Then maybe we can hope to see results of the 2014-15 magnet lottery, which should be sending notification letters about now.