Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Raises, race and other budget answers

Yesterday I noted some questions I'd be asking going into the budget.  As anticipated,  technology and choice were so central to Superintendent Heath Morrison's plan that there's not a lot to add  (read the CMS presentation here and my budget story here).  Here's more on the other themes:

Raises:  Morrison's plan reflects the 1 percent hike in Gov. Pat McCrory's plan.  That would require coming up with $2.2 million in county money to ensure that 1 percent extends to county-paid staff.  If CMS can persuade legislators to go higher,  Morrison assured the public and the board he'll find money to increase the county match.  For instance,  if the state approves a 3 percent raise,  CMS will need a total of $6.6 million in county money.


On the other hand, Morrison warned that it's possible the General Assembly could end up granting state employees no raise.  He said if that happens,  he's committed to ensuring all CMS employees get at least 1 percent -- which would require $7.9 million from the county.

Many school board members were still underwhelmed by 1 percent --  as I'm guessing a lot of CMS employees are.  Morrison told them it wouldn't have been realistic to ask county commissioners to commit to covering a 3 percent raise,  even if that meant assuming the state's responsibility.  "If we proposed to do a full 3 percent (with county money),  then basically that becomes our only ask,"  he told the board.

Cultural competence:  There's nothing in the budget about cultural competence or racial equity,  but Morrison said he plans to unveil a plan in the coming year. The cost won't be high enough to merit a budget breakout,  he said.  He said his effort will involve "a number of individuals and partners,"  with the possibility of outside money to cover some of the cost.  He says he wants to hear from task forces studying cultural competence and African American males before making a decision:  "The worst thing you can do is convene a task force and say,  'Here's the plan.' "

Bell schedules:  Morrison insists that months of talks with parents and teachers who want bell schedules and bus routes changes haven't been wasted,  even though none of the options they pondered made it into the 2013-14 budget.  He lauded those people for working on solutions,  but said all alternatives were too expensive and/or affected too many people to tackle this year.  He noted that previous CMS leaders caught flak for making the original changes without consulting the people affected;  "I don't want to do that again."  In short, the answer is "not this year," but not necessarily "never."

Safety:   There's no money in the 2013-14 budget for additional security staff or school resource officers.  Morrison said that's because the city of Charlotte has shifted $2.7 million in costs for the existing police corps to CMS over the last two years.  Council members are looking for ways to give CMS a break,  and if that happens it might free up money to expand staffing.

Cuts:  The plan includes $9 million in  "reductions and redirections,"  including $1.6 million from eliminating 14 vacant central office jobs,  $2.5 million from adjusting budgeted salaries and benefits to reflect the reality of what the current workforce is earning and $1 million to eliminate the contract for Thinkgate tests.  Morrison said more savings may show up in his second year,  as he continues working through CMS'  processes and systems.


Anonymous said...

Good Luck on Pat and the legislature on the raises. Ah. the sucking sound of even more retirements and newbies finding even Ms. Haley pays more than NC. Goodbye Heath, we hardly knew you.

Anonymous said...

Ann, No word about exactly how many zombies showed up last night. Didn't look like too many. What happened, after the hype you and The Observer gave them?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a few local "community organizers" will finally get a paying gig teaching "cultural competence".

Kujo, you listening?

Next step could be a visit to the White House.

How does Secretary of Cultural Competence sound?

Wiley Coyote said...


Which group of students would be part of the $1.2 million dollar request to pay for AP/IB tests?

Would those funds be for students who were forced to pay for the tests themselves after CMS cut the funding a couple of years ago?

The state still pays the fee for "low income" students already designated FRL, so why shouldn't the state pay for the rest?

In 2011, 9,800 students took the test. That included 2,500 that the state paid for which leaves 7,300 who had to pay out of their pocket.

At $87.00 a pop, one test per the 7,300 is only $635,100.

I realize some students take more than one AP/IB course, but knowing exactly how CMS came up with the $1.2 million dollar number and who will get the benefit would be interesting, seeing as how the state is already picking up the cost for about 2,500 students.

Anonymous said...

Heath - you are delusional. Go back to whatever island you have been on. It is over. $28million increase? If those additional programs are so much needed why not cut the waste (some of which has so nicely been noted in these comments).

Anonymous said...

Wiley: You know the answer to the question: CMS budgets high numbers so they have money left over in those areas to spend on the things they don't want to publicize.
No one is holding them accountable. CMS BOE loves the tactic.

Anonymous said...

It might be interesting to see exactly how many school systems pay for all students to take these tests. As I recall when CMS dropped the payments several years back (yes, CMS used to pay for everyone's tests--or at least for the ones the state did not pay for) it was revealed that almost no other school system in the country paid students' test fees. My oldest two children attended high school elsewhere and we paid for all of their tests. When my youngest son hit high school we were very surprised to find that we did not have to pay for his AP exams. Quite a money saver for us (13 tests in all I believe, my son's choice of course) but is this really where CMS needs to put its money? When CMS was paying I think they did so because students were required to take the test in order to get credit on their transcript for taking the class. Is that still the case? Or did that requirement change when CMS dropped the payments.

Anonymous said...

CMS pays for the tests because one of the magazines rating High Schools uses % of students taking the test as a metric.

Ann Doss Helms said...

7:46, only about half a dozen zombies.

Wiley, yes, the state will continue to pay fees for FRL students and the new CMS money would cover the costs for everyone else. I haven't seen a specific numbers/costs breakdown but haven't had time to read the full budget book.

Anonymous said...

Heath , Unfortunately you are in so far over your head its gonna hurt. Its no small town Reno anymore. Have the Chamber fight your budget battle with the state/county leaders since your in bed with them.

Anonymous said...

Late bell affects over 29,000 students and thousands of teachers and staff. It would cost about the same or less to fix this problem as it does to pay for 8500 students to take exams. It seems that teachers and the 29,000 students should have priority over 8500 students.

Jeff Wise said...


29,000 students are affected? Can you prove these numbers? Also, how many students were unaffected by the bell schedule changes? If there's 141,000 students in CMS, that would seem to indicate that about 80% of students are not affected.

Can you prove that changing the bell schedules would negatively affect those 80% of students?

The bell schedule certainly caused some adjustments in our daily lives, but we've had no detrimental side effects to those adjustments. Why then should we be penalized for making successful familial adjustments?

Anonymous said...

Great! So their solution is now to try and give 3%!!!Wow, so a 12 year teacher will know not be paid as a 6 year but 7 year teacher. At this rate they will have the excuse of cost to bring everyone current to their years of service. How about do it now and just give yearly step increases!!Unbelievable how they get away with this!!

Wiley Coyote said...

Here is Eric Frazier's assessment of having to pay exam fees for his daughter back in February od 2011:

As a parent who just shelled out about $188 (plus online "convenience fees") for two AP tests for my daughter, I must say I was a little miffed to think parents in previous budget years didn't fork over the same amount. On the other hand, I don't even want to imagine how much the same classes cost in the UNC system. So, I suppose it's still a bargain.

Read more here:

And another from Eric a month later on the same AP/IB subject:

Students and parents have told the Observer the fees pose a big financial burden, especially to students taking heavy AP courseloads. Chris Cobitz, head of testing for CMS, said it was more likely due to students who might have "stretched" to try AP classes, and now don't feel confident about taking the test since they have to pay for it.

I tend to suspect more the former, myself. What do you think?

Read more here:

Now, if CMS can get their heads out of the sand and find the money for ALL students to be able to play sports and do away with their cockamamie pay to play scheme built on fraud......

Anonymous said...

We are going to be taxed to death just to pay for common core. It will be another obamacare. Just you wait and see!

Anonymous said...

Please note that the free lunch crowd doesn't have to pay any fees. Just like everything else, they get it all for free.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 10:28

It goes beyond Obamacare. It's a mindset the socialist, communist left is pushing in this country.

Anonymous said...

Exactly Wiley! So why do I feel like the only parent who seems to care! I have called and emailed from the state down but apparently common core is here to stay. Parents need to wake up! Politics do not belong in the classroom. My child read a book at school about Barack Obama's life and how great he was and is and never discussed how he is destroying this country. I also need to add it was part of black history month.

Missouri said...

At some point, you run out of other peoples' money!

Wiley Coyote said...


Now you know why the left has been so nasty and jubilant over the death of Margaret Thatcher for the past few days...

From Obama's just published budget:

The president also is proposing establishment of program to offer preschool to all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families, with the money to support the effort coming from increased taxes on tobacco products.

Obama doesn't have a clue as to who the "low to moderate income" families are.

The requirements are a moving target but increasing dramatically as we have seen since he took office.

Anonymous said...

Ann, here are some facebook pages against common core you may want to check out. The original page was started by a school board president in California. It is called Parents and Educators against Common Core. The other two sites were started by two NC moms after joining the initial site. NC is apparently way behind in the issues against common core. These are the FB site names for NC: Stop Common Core in NC and NC against Common Core. Hope you take some time to check them out!

Missouri said...

Wiley, as long as they fund the program only through the tobacco tax, you could almost argue it would be a wash for those that would not get benefit for it. I would submit that most of the tobacco tax is paid for by the low and moderate income class who probably do not pay federal taxes anyway.

Much like how the NC Education Lottery is okay with me. It is the only way we get the low and moderate income people to pay anything for a government service.

We jsut need ot find more ways to move government services to be paid for by some tax/fee/lottery that the low to modeate income people would pick paying mostly for. Therefore if I do not want to support some program, I simply do not engage in the activty that is taxed.

I went to buy some furniture the other day and almost negated the transaction thinking how I did not want the BOCC or the city to get any of the taxes I paid just ot watch them waste on some program to buy votes to keep them in power.

I am hoping the NC Legislature takes more steps to gut city and county governments to protect the new minority, the tax payers.

Wiley Coyote said...

Missouri, anyone?

Please tell me how America survived for over 200 years without pre-K?

...a tax is a tax is a tax, no matter where it comes from.

Anonymous said...

Jeff , On late bell schedule its terrible for students and families (late). Fact is CMS is not going to change it. Its easier for them just to lose families like me. I still have to pay state/county tax even though I wont use their services next year. I will however lobby the state very hard for vouchers and potentially move to Ft. Mill SC home of the free. They have awesome schools and provide a great education. Its CMS way to say "we dont care about your child" and thats a insult. They dont save any money with the late bell program everyone knows that. The late bell actually helps CMS in its population numbers as many families have left. It does hurt another number and that is GPA. Keith W. Hurley

Jeff Wise said...

First off Common Core is not a left or right issue. Those who argue their petty partisan politics within these comments do nothing but show ignorance of the overall education issue.

A simple Google search shows scores of results of people from the left and right supporting and protesting Common Core - by calling it a socialist, communistic program is to show your ignorance of the subject.

Wiley, this country "survived" for 200 years without pre-K because for 150 of those years non-whites weren't allowed to be educated. For 100-some of those years women were only allowed certain types of education.

There's no point to your question.

Missouri said...

Wiley, as usual you are right about that!

When DHHS says Head Start is a waste and even a detriment to some children, you'd think some people would sit up and take notice. But instead, black Congressmen and women are coming out of the woodwork to tack amendments onto various bills to give it more money. Sends a signal doesn't it?

Jeff Wise said...


I won't disagree that the bell changes have adversely affected some families, but I'm saying my family isn't one of them, I'd pretty much say it's made our daily routines easier. That could easily change once we have a child in high school.

My overall point is what about the other side of that story? If only 20% of families are saying this is really bad, what do the other 80% say? What are they doing different?

I understand the cost savings that were trumpeted a few years back probably aren't there, but has anyone from the side protesting the current bell schedule looked and understand the impact of changing the schedules to where they were?

What if that change affects my family? What if it adversely affects the 80% we're not hearing from right now?

Sometimes unpopular decisions really are what's best for the entire system - that may or may not be the case here, since we only hear from the aggrieved side, we only know one side of the story.


Jeff Wise said...


Head Start is not considered a high-quality pre-K program, this is well documented. Those currently advocating for pre-K correctly talk about running high quality programs, not Head Start.

Those pushing for more Head Start money are either (correctly) wanting to improve and standardize its program to a higher quality, or to partially agree with you, there are those who don't understand that Head Start needs overhauling.

The bottom line is a solid pre-K program has merit and is a solid investment.

Wiley Coyote said...


No point?

So what's YOUR point? That non-Whites for the past 40+ years still don't get it or is Whitey still to blame for 72% of Black children born to single mothers?

So what about all those White kids who were born into poverty and couldn't afford to go to school back then, which was reserved for the wealthy? Yet we still beat the "achievement gap" drum incessantly today.

It sounds as if you subscribe to the Melissa Harris-Perry mantra of raising and educating kids.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I feel if you actually researched common core and did not just google it you would understand the resistance. Many states are not only using
Common core in the public schools they are also implementing it in private schools and children that are home schooled. Tell me how that is not classified as communist. Parents can no longer choose where to send their kids to school. Do you really believe that a group of governors decided on their own that we needed the same curriculum in every state. DOE told states they could have Race to the Top money only of they agreed to CC.
Open your mind and see past the propaganda. They also plan to track our children's data including how we vote.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the left wing propaganda does not bother me as much as the federal government taking over education does. Constitutionally, they are not allowed. This is going to be expensive and even more of a mess than NCLB.
We teach our children at home what is happening in the World. We are also teaching them the tools to make their own decisions based on facts. There is definitely a political agenda being pushed at school. If you have noticed then you are not paying attention.

Jeff Wise said...


When you make assumptions about what I sound like or might, or might not, believe in, you set yourself up for disappointment.

I personally believe education should be handled by the states. I think each state should set up its own standards and those states that do it well will attract more business and taxpayers. Those that don't will either continue to be Mississippi or they'll figure out how to change and keep up.

I didn't like NCLB and I don't like RttT and am not a big fan of Common Core (to 2:08p, if private schools are adopting Common Core it's on their own volition, they are *not* being forced to, so no, it's still not communism).

I do believe most US schools are competitive with other nations, not that I care if US 8th graders read at the same level as Finnish 8th graders - what does that mean anyhow? And I don't care if US 4th graders are better at math than Japanese 4th graders.

I do care that US students graduate high school with an ability to solve problems, think creatively, balance their finances, have an appreciation for the arts and find success in the marketplace. I don't see how any of that has anything to do with standardized tests, value-add assessments and blaming teachers. Nor does it have anything to do with being conservative or liberal (or trying to pin labels on people).

Wiley Coyote said...



All I did was comment on your erroneous history lesson about Whites and Blacks and how your comment indicates Whites are still "holding back Blacks" and that we, the taxpayers should be funding pre-K because of that notion of yours.

You're still dodging the issue you brought up.

Taxpayers should not be responsible for lousy parenting and continue to enable a large segment of our society to keep having more kids knowing that government - aka taxpayers - will take care of their every need.

By the way, here's part of Perry's commercial for MSNBC:

...We have never invested as much in public education as we should have, because we’ve always had kind of a private notion of children – “Your kid is yours, and totally your responsibility” — we haven’t had a very collective notion of “these are our children,” so part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the household’s, then we start making better investments.... Melissa Harris Perry

I believe your kid IS your kid and your responsibility. You?

She goes on to say in a show Easter morning before her commercial airs about children:

HARRIS-PERRY: I'm less worried about them -- in part because they're good socialists, right?

I'm an unaffiliated voter. I no more want to see the religeous right shaping education policy than I do the socialist left.

Anonymous said...

I don't care so much how other kids perform in school as I care about how my own kids perform.

I want my kids to do better than the average kids everywhere, not just the US.

Because I know how low we've set that bar.

In fact, I'd like to keep them in the top 5% by anyone's standards.

So I do a lot of home schooling in addition to what they teach in the classrooms.

All I ask is that the educrats not waste too much of our time and money while they pursue their "other" agendas in school.

I know how competitive the rest of the world is and how much tougher it is likely to get.

And I'm going to prepare my kids for THAT world, not whatever the latest educational/sociological trend happens to be.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Previously CMS had different bell schedules. They worked so why did they change in the first place? Other than to lose top producing students and great teachers I see 0 reason for the change. The only families that I know that seem to like it are out of greed , because it eliminates after school care. Put my shoes on and send 2 kids to school at 7:30 and another at 9:15 then reverse at night. I have to take my middle school out of the cycle next year away from her friends of 12 years. BAD,BAD,BAD and out of CMS GREED. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

CMS Waste Example # 37869
$1 million for ten(10) public/private coordinators and technology.

$99,400 salaries x 10=$994,000
$600 x 10=$6,000 i-Pads
$0 one volunteer=chumped on the big salary


30 teachers at frozen pay or........

10 retiree volunteers from the business community....


CMS logic at its best.

Anonymous said...

Finland at least pays attention to child development. The US wants little geniuses before they start

Anonymous said...

There is nothing wrong with little geniuses.

Only in America would someone find anything wrong with being a genius at ANY age.

Finland will probably wishes they had a few more, now that Nokia is sucking wind.

There are over a billion people in India and China.


Their top 10% (a mere 250 million or so people) will probably dictate what the rest of the 21st century is like for the rest of the planet.

You can bet THEY won't give a rats patootie about Finland OR the social experiments going on anywhere else in the world.

It's already happening.

If people thought the British and American "empires" were rough on the little people, just wait until the Chinese run things.

Many people and many other cultures (including their particular sensitivities and "enlightened" views and values) just won't be as relevant as they once were.

Shamash said...

Finland used to have the number one cell phone company, Nokia, with hundreds of thousands of employees.

Now they have Rovio (Angry Birds) employing less than a thousand employees in some of Nokia's vacant offices.

But, wait, they also have Supercell, another Android app software company with just a few hundred employees.

The service economy has taken hold in Finland and taken a big bite out of their economy.

And things will probably never be the same there again with Nokia on the ropes.

Their economy has already taken a bit of a dip in the last few years and they are starting to show strains in their socialist fabric in that the rich are getting much richer, while the rest are stagnating.

They need as much genius as they can muster now.

Meanwhile, has anyone heard that latest Korean pop hit by that formerly unknown fella Psy?

Gangnam Style?

Who would have thought that Asians (and especially those wonky "uncreative" Koreans) would be on the leading edge of a worldwide cultural phenomenon such as that?

More coming to a world near you...

Shamash said...

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that the manufacturer to pass Nokia in cell phone production worldwide is Samsung.

Yes. From Korea.

With all those uncreative, wonky, social misfit genius children they produce...

We need to get past the stereotyping of Asians and look at reality.

These people are not mindless drones just because they are smart and study harder than we do.

Next up to bat is China, folks.

I'm not so sure about India as others, but they won't be asleep at the wheel much longer, either.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, we are STILL considering "cultural competence" training?

Maybe we should be looking at the other "cultures" out there instead of the remnants of our sorry past and their constant whining.

Oppa Gangnam Style...

(NO ONE would have or could have predicted Psy even three years ago...)

Jeff Wise said...


Fair comments and good point.

Jeff Wise said...


I said blacks were generally not allowed to be a part of public education for the majority of US history and that women were usually given subpar education too - that's erroneous?

You made an inference that I did not. I simply said, as I've said elsewhere, that pre-K should be universal. I never said a single word about race relations and never came close to suggesting that Whites are holding back Blacks.

Further, bad parenting is rather subjective. But who are you to tell anyone what bad parenting is?

Back in the '50s it was okay for parents to verbally and physically abuse their children. Who's to say that's bad parenting?

And yes, lest you think I'm dodging your sagacious line of questions, my child is absolutely my child, I accept that responsibility. During the school day, his teacher has responsibility, I trust that teacher to complement our parenting.

That means my child is also part of the larger community, there's nothing wrong with communities contributing to the welfare of our children.

Anonymous said...

I am one of those families that has 2 kids at a 9:15am school. We do not use childcare. It has been great for my family. My kids have time to come home, eat, do homework, play sports (they get home at 8:30-9pm some nights) and they are able to sleep in and have breakfast with dad before he leaves for work. It has provided my family with more family time, for which I am thankful. So, personally it works for our family.

I do have a serious problem with the 7:15am bell though. We will contend (and complain) about that in 2 years. It makes no sense academically, physically, socially and mentally to have teenage students be at school at 7am, and there's a lot of research supporting later bell schedules (not one mention about the benefits of early start times for students).

Wiley Coyote said...

Sorry Jeff...

You still don't get it.

Here is what you said:

Wiley, this country "survived" for 200 years without pre-K because for 150 of those years non-whites weren't allowed to be educated.

"pre-K" didn't even come into existence until AFTER your 150 years, coincidentally about 1926 - 150 years after 1776. Even then it was private and until Head Start in 1965 it was still a private program.

So Federally, pre-K has been only been around a little over 40 years.

Taxpayer funded pre-K programs are relatively new so tell me again why all of a sudden we need to put hundreds of thousands of kids into pre-K programs when it is a parental responsibility and have taxpayers pay for it?

You're in a catch 22 here because if pre-K is SO great and studies show it's so great, then why has the national graduation rate in the US declined and been below the highest rate of 79% in 1969, 3 years AFTER Head Start?

If you want pre-K for a select group, then have philanthorpists or willing corporations pay for it.

Bright Beginnings is the poster child for the ultimate pre-K failure.

Anonymous said...

The 9:15 bell is horrible for young children. While it may work for your family with middle schoolers, 5 and 6 year old kids are not awake at 8:30pm, much less playing sports at that hour. They naturally wake up at 6:30 or 7:00 and go to bed at 7:30. I agree that the 7:15 for high school makes no sense. Elementary kids should be on the early bell, with middle and high school kids going later. Also, all of gthese comments focus on families. Teachers are very, very unhappy with the bell schedule, especially the extra 45 minutes of free day care that they are providing for their students. Teachers will continue to transfer out of 4:15 schools and elementary teachers will leave for other districts.

Anonymous said...

CMS sucks, plain and simple. I can only hope I can sell my house in 10 years when my kids are done. That is if anyone wants to live in Meck county and send their kids to CMS by that time.

Anonymous said...

As I always say, the best solution is to move away from the problem.

That's worked well for my family for the past 50 years or so.

It's a tried and true solution to many of our "social" ills.

Anonymous said...

fyi...the extra 45 minutes has been filled by video games and extra recess. Those poor teachers.