The crowds that have been turning out for recent school board and county commissioners' meetings may be dwarfed by the group mobilizing for Wednesday's public hearing on the county budget. Correction: I had listed this as Tuesday; the hearing is actually Wednesday, June 11.
The Mecklenburg PTA Council is organizing a "block party" starting at 4 p.m. outside the Government Center, getting people to start gathering two hours before the Mecklenburg County commissioners start taking comments on the budget. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is seeking a $46.2 million increase in its county allotment for 2014-15, including $26.7 million to pay for raises of at least 3 percent for the district's approximately 18,500 employees.
|Line for CMS budget hearing|
The crowd is almost certain to to overflow the capacity of the meeting chamber, as they did for the school board's recent budget hearing. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public School Friends, a group pushing for the raises and supporting the CMS budget, has lined up space for the overflow crowd to watch the televised meeting at the nearby Blackfinn pub.
As I've noted before, education advocacy groups are popping up all over this year. But unlike some of the statewide groups created by anonymous donors, Public School Friends is the creation of local advocates who have long lobbied for CMS, including Elyse Dashew, Marni Eisner and Sandra Conway.
"Will you pose with the crossing guard who gets your student safely across the street every morning?" the Facebook page asks. "The school nurse who deserves a Purple Heart for patience? The teacher who runs the carpool lane like clockwork, rain or shine?"
Superintendent Heath Morrison has been talking up the budget at every opportunity (find CMS info here). At the Tuesday Breakfast Forum he noted that some county commissioners have complained about the public show of support, and urged the district's supporters not to be deterred. "That's not the democratic way, that's not the American way and I don't think it's the Charlotte way," he said. "I'd rather have you contact your county commissioners saying, 'Don't fund the CMS budget' than have you be silent."