Friday, May 4, 2012

Project LIFT starts making grants

Project LIFT will report on its first round of grant recipients at Tuesday's Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board meeting.

According to the powerpoint, those will include an array of local and out-of-state groups working to recruit and develop staff, provide summer programs for kids and help families tap into technology. Project LIFT, as most of you know, is a public-private partnership focused on West Charlotte High and the eight schools that feed into it.  While the organizing has been in the news for more than a year,  this summer marks the start of services for kids.

Several weeks ago, I requested numbers on teachers who were offered retention bonuses or forced to transfer from the LIFT schools, as well as results on the others who were given a choice.  I've renewed that request and hope to have more to report next week. (Update: Tahira Stalberte said today those numbers will be ready "in about a week.")  I'm also curious about how close the group is getting to its goal of having $55 million pledged by June to spend over the next five years.

While I'm updating (and giving blog readers a respite from Reno reports),  I didn't forget about doing a story on the 2012 CMS payroll.  I had one written and ready to run,  but after I hopped on the plane,  CMS reported that the file they'd given me omitted Race to the Top bonuses.  I'll update the database and the story soon.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Anne,

Just wondering why this money is going to out of state people? Are there not qualified people to do it in state?

Good luck getting that information from S Denise Watts. If it at all makes her look bad, you can forget it.

Wiley Coyote said...

It looks as if the vast majority of money is being spent (or given away) on feel good programs.

If there was ever an entitlement driven, socialistic, we'll take care of you and your parent's every need program, Project LIFT is it, with a sprinkling of education tossed in to make it look good.

Christine Mast said...

Since we're talking about Denise Watts and Project LIFT, I thought I'd share some emails that we've exchanged recently.

First, I asked her to detail the $4 million that is passed through the CMS budget:

LIFT Salaries and Benefits $399,750
Retention Bonuses $812,758
Recruitment Bonuses $645,900
Extended Employment $908,910
LIFT Academy $820,476
Differentiated Career Pathways for Teachers $390,272

The rest of the LIFT Budget will remain outside of CMS and will focus on engaging various partners in the turnaround efforts.

Then, since her website states LIFT will spend $10 million during the 1st year of operation, I asked for the breakdown of the remaining $6 million. I asked her this on March 23rd, and then again on March 27th. Yesterday, May 3rd, I asked her for the 3rd time. This was her response:

THis will be presented in the May 8 CMS School Board Meeting. Because of our partnership with CMS, I would like to provide the school board with this information before making it public. I encourage you to watch the school board meeting. If not, I am also working on a media release shortly afterwards. I hope this helps!

Now if the Power Point on the CMS BOE Agenda is what she's referring to, it still doesn't answer the question of where the entire $6 million is coming from. I guess we'll have to wait and see...

One last comment... I find it strange that one of the leading indicators on her presentation to the Board is for "Teacher Attendance." Is that such an issue that we need to track this data? That concerns me. Especially if all the TFA help is on its way...

Anonymous said...

Does it even matter since LIFT is not being held accountable for anything as far as growing students or education? If we needed another daycare in town we should have just expanded Bright Beginings and offered FRL to everyone. I mean guys this lady Ms. Watts hates CMS ever since she left them 2 years ago. It will only cater to a few select minority kids and feed money to minority teachers. It will die in less than 3 years since funding is way off as well.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 8:27...

In my opinion, Project LIFT should be resisted at every turn.

When this group hires lobbyists to go to Raleigh to affect "change" and possibly use this program as an example to further spread this entitlement using tax dollars as Bright Beginnings is doing - and wasting - we do not need another program that sucks money into a giant black hole.

We don't need to expand Bright Beginnings, the National School Lunch Program or Project LIFT.

We need to educate ALL kids to their ability from K-12 and move on.

This country is fast slipping into the cradle to grave muck that we will never pull ourselves out of.

America did not get to where it is today because Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Lincoln, etc, attended a Bright Beginnings type program or had government support their every breath of existence.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, My points exactly. THis Project LIFT is a dump ! It is poor leadership and a money grab for 1 person to have a job Ms. Watts. I hate it and it has 0 value for CMS. I resist the entire program and if Anthony Foxx puts a dime of my tax paying money into it as he has been qouted I will tax it to a federal level.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Christine, yes, teacher attendance can be a huge issue, especially at challenging schools and those where morale is bad for whatever reason.

8:27, do you maybe have Denise Watts confused with someone else? She has held several CMS jobs over the last several years, but the only time I'm aware of that she left CMS was the brief stretch when she was LIFT executive director (before that became a CMS job). At that point she was not on bad terms with CMS.

Pamela Grundy said...

Hi Christine,

Just one note: teacher attendance is one standard indicator of teacher morale at a school. The idea is that in general if teachers are happy and engaged with their school, they'll always be there, and if they're dissatisfied or unhappy they'll find reasons to stay away. Like all stats, it's only an indicator of what might be a problem to be investigated, but it is a useful one.

Wiley Coyote said... the bottom line for teacher morale is $$$$$$$$$.

Anonymous said...

No Wiley, but it is something that can be tracked and therefore something that Ms. Watts and her cronies will spend money on and in the end, throw the teachrs under the bus when LIFT fails.

Christine, yes, morale is a big issue especialy at that type of school and any school where Watts is in charge of since there is virtually no discipline of students. And no respect for the teacehrs.

Ann, even when she "left,"I'm fairly sure that LIFT paid CMS to keep her on the payroll so that she could continue to have retitrement and bennefits.

What I can't believe is between Retention Bonuses ($812,758) and
Recruitment Bonuses ($645,900) LIft is spending One and One half Billion dollars. And what is this nonsense about Differentiated Career Pathways for Teacher? To the tume of $390,272. Sounds to me like we are paying for the privilage of having TFAs.

I've said it efore... The only person being LIFT'd by this program is good ol' Sharmel Watts who vowed never to be poor again. blah blah blah.

Christine Mast said...

CMS reported that the file they'd given me omitted Race to the Top bonuses.

There are at least 10 people that work in the payroll department. How does a "simple" payroll report manage to get released without including bonuses? Is the report coming from the payroll system, or are they calculating it in Excel????

I'm sorry, but this is unacceptable.

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Anonymous said...


Why dont you show LIFT how to turn $2 into $8 . Taxpayers will never EVER see that type of return on investment.

Anonymous said...

Bonuses? Who in CMS gets one of them? Apparently not the teachers!

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Anonymous said...

Ann, the director ms. Watts was with CMS and quit over a year ago. Please update your facts again or just ask MS. Watts. Or check her Lift propaganda she has it qouted in. If your going to publish on a topic you need to research a little better in future.

Anonymous said...

Bill Anderson in the TEACH FOR AMERICA CHALET at the Golf Tournament. Conflict of interest from the Meck Ed Boy?

Anonymous said...

The entire tournament is a TFA fund raiser. Anderson is his own personal Project Lift.

Anonymous said...

Project Lift reported in their request for proposals that only $950,000 out of 10 million was available for funding community groups and non profits for programs for kids. So Ann, if over90% of the money goes to recuitment, bonuses, salaries and benefits for staff and teachers how are these kids really being helped? If Leon Levine, CD spangler
etc..want to give money to CMS thats good its their private money. But don't come with this thinly veiled smoke screen of helping minority kids by giving the vast majority of the money to staff and teachers. Denise knows better than this, Hey Denise stop pimping poverty!!I guess now the Char. Obs. will report 50 million dollars wasted on the westside.. You really do not want to motivate these kids you want them to keep doing your menial task while the money is being funneled back to CMS. We see what you are.. selling out the kids on the westside.