Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Seven big CMS budget questions

Superintendent Heath Morrison rolls out his first budget today,  a little less than a year after he was hired to lead Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  Here are the big things I'm wondering:

Large raises?  Morrison knows morale has been bad and employees are frustrated by stagnant wages.  Will he ask county commissioners for another big chunk of money to bump up what the state approves,  like interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh did last spring,  or take the more traditional path of following the state's lead?  And will some form of performance pay be incorporated?

How much for technology?  We don't have to wonder if the budget will include a big request for money to provide internet access in schools.  Morrison has said online testing requirements make that a mandate, not an option.  The question is how much -- and how much that leaves for other projects in a tight budget year.

What kind of choice?  Again, we know Morrison is big on increasing options within CMS.  The question is how far he'll go with that in 2013-14 and where he'll find money.

Changes in busing or bells?  Some parents and teachers have been pushing hard for Morrison to find money to change school hours and/or restore busing options that were cut during the recession.  They'll find out this evening whether that made the cut.

More school guards?  The board has already approved spending capital money to beef up school security.  Now we'll see whether Morrison plans to add police officers, security guards or both,  and what it will cost.

Cultural competency?  A cultural competency program won't be a big-ticket item, but it'll be a talker.  Morrison drew equally fervent praise and criticism earlier this year when he talked about hiring racial equity consultant Glenn Singleton. Morrison has gone silent on that subject for the last couple of months. But it's hard to imagine he'll wait another full year before tackling something he has repeatedly described as one of his top priorities.

Real cuts?  CMS always touts millions of dollars in  "reductions and redirections,"  but those tend to be expenses that went away on their own or shifted from one funding source to another.  Big, real cuts are tough.  But Morrison came in with fresh eyes and a surge of popularity.  He's got to find money for his own vision,  and county commissioners don't exactly have their checkbook out. We'll soon see whether Morrison is going to make big sacrifices to free up money.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St.  You can show up to comment on the capital plan,  make remarks on any topic or dress like a zombie to protest testing. Or you can watch from the comfort of your own computer.


Wiley Coyote said...

"This is like deja vu all over again."

Anonymous said...

I can tell you where one of the cuts might come from. "Central Office" staffs including Student Services (read counselors), Finance Department, Technology Operations, Student Applications and Accountability have been told they are moving again (out of Oakhurst). No one is saying where they are going. Guess they don't need a place to work and teach. For some of these departments it is the fifth move in seven years. Talk about morale and staffs! Ha!

krruss said...

I've got an idea - let's not knock down the old Pineville Elementary, and put the HVAC department in it. Them maybe they won't ever let a school get that bad again.

It wouldn't be a bad idea to put all of the departments on or near a campus. It might remind them that they are supposed to be support for the teachers, and that the focus is on the students.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if there will be any reductions in overhead.

Anonymous said...

If we need all those area superintendents we sure don't need Heath. Break up the beast.

Anonymous said...

Why aren't more buses housed at local high school parking lots during the school week? Keeping the bus fleet in the neighborhoods they serve only makes sense and would save a lot of money. Buses should not have to go back and forth from the transportation garages on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Ironically, half of the CMS employees don't teach or interact with the students. Cuts need to be made there first.

Anonymous said...

Well, now that the CO has practically eliminated public comments on their stories (is that new policy?), I'm sure Morrison will feel "empowered" to continue his racist crusade with Singleton as well as the other "talked" about items he has put on the back burner.

Ah, yes.

Nothing beats the sound of silence from a non-caring public...

So why are the blogs still open to comments?

Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

CMS should start with what impacts the students learning first. I can tell you its not a PR department or a smurf in a suit. Its also not EES sitting on a plane bound for London. Support the teachers and the schools first. Wake up or you will lose more staff and create turnover that you cannot handle again.

BolynMcClung said...


That's will be CMS' increase over last year from the state. Less than half of the $15M the district says is the bare minimum.

It's not enough for growth.

Nothing extra from county, if not less.

Maybe some support from the city for the SROs....but doubtful

Confirmed less from Feds.

CMS needs one more wish. Turning wheat into gold.

Bolyn McClung

Wiley Coyote said...


CMS has no clue how much money they need nor do they have any idea how much groth they will have in the next few years.

I'm sure charter schools will have an impact and if CMS implements a cockamamie school boundary overlay plan, they may very well have a population decrease.

BolynMcClung said...


CMS probably knows the amount they need. I've had some discussions and its clear that the clarity coming out of Raleigh coupled with the narrow path Common Core is dictating, spells a well defined budget already.

Wanting to give a raise is such a necessity. When you look at the history(since 1972) of pay scales following low or no-raise years you can see that teacher morale depends of an increase.

I can't imagine where the money is going to come from.

The county appears adamant that Technology can not be funded with indebtedness. It will have to come from operational dollars or grants……or the community(hint)!

My $6.4M number has been broken down in previous post. But as a reminder, two large state obligations block additional K12 funding from the expected a good-sized portion of the $430M in new state revenues: Reserve Fund rebuild and pay back of unemployment to Feds.

As for the charter drain on funding, it is not so critical this year but CMS should begin to scale back programs that have funded impacted 3 and 4 years down the road. CMS has lost the battle to defeat charters via legislative action. The district’s only chance is to offer superior classrooms to ALL families....a difficult thing to do when those parents have a notion that CMS doesn't do anything right even when it does.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

Bolyn , So is it time for the state/county to offer set vouchers for education to families? If the "funds are tight" is it time to lay people off within CMS who add no value in the classroom? Is it time to do a study on a study for a study and spend more money? Is it time to ask the state to approve a "work tax" for people who live outside our county that like their jobs in Mecklenburg to pay for public school needs? Is it time to let the state know who its biggest tax generating client is Mecklenburg? Has the state of NC not seen the HUGE numbers in revenue the DNC provided to the tax coffers? Is it time to hire a lobbyist like LIFT did? This age old wolf crying that Raleigh wont give us anything is tired. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wiley Coyote said...

Raises for employees should be the easiest to compute and the first item on the list.

Technology, number of new students and their ages, transportation costs, new schools, old schools, consolidated schools, etc. is the elephant in the room.

My concern is the behind the scenes wrangling over what schools to close, consolidate and or add-on to.

Ann was off the week proposed school changes were floated and reported in the Observer, so no details were given.

CMS unveils new capital plan

By April Bethea
Posted: Wednesday, Mar. 27, 2013

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/27/3935160/cms-board-to-discuss-security.html#storylink=cpy

There is more than meets the eye to some of the possible changes for the schools listed, which in turn will affect other schools nearby not listed which has not been reported.

Anonymous said...

Get rid of all the area superintendents and you create a lot of $ for raises.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting for the ABC bonus that was dangled and jerked six years ago, the steps from the eighties, the technology that math and science always seem to get but others do without, competency in administration, and repairing things instead of "needing" the next great instructional gadget. (White board, Smart Board, i-Pad, or mostly, none of the above.) It's not an entitlement mentality, it's just some animals are more equal than others, especially the pet animals.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:06, did you see the updates on the comments? I was trying to figure out what had happened, too, but by the time I got back into the office they've got it (mostly) fixed. http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/09/3970470/comment-function-not-working.html

Anonymous said...


I saw the update, but it came after the comments were fixed.

I think they've been out for more than a day or at least since yesterday without any explanation until after they were fixed.

Ann Doss Helms said...

According to a note we got, we've been having the problem off and on for about six weeks. It's an issue with Disqus, not an Observer policy. Blog comments aren't affected because they're through Blogger.com, not Disqus.

Anonymous said...

Wiley , I agree 100% with you , but the million dollar question is will common sense be used by BOE? I consider it the first "real" Heath decision. The Staff in the schools is the front lines in educating the communities students. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

I heard that mentors were back in the budget again. One for every middle, and one for every other elem. worked so well last time.

Anonymous said...

2Over $100 MILLION to upgrade the venue for overpriced entertainers.

1% Teacher Raises ( MAYBE )

Good luck on the future of industry and home prices for Charlotte in the near future. Good luck on finding the best and brightest to educate these students! Can anyone say build more prisons?

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...

RE: a high school Montessori magnet at Derita:

"Montessori education for this level is less well-developed than programs for younger children. Montessori did not establish a teacher training program or a detailed plan of education for adolescents during her lifetime. However, a number of schools have extended their programs for younger children to the middle school and high school levels. In addition, several Montessori organizations have developed teacher training or orientation courses AND A LOOSE CONSENSUS ON THE PLAN OF STUDY IS EMERGING. Montessori wrote that;

"The essential reform of our plan from this point of view may be defined as follows: during the difficult time of adolescence it is helpful to leave the accustomed environment of the family in town and to go to quiet surroundings in the country, close to nature".

Thus, many Montessori schools for adolescents 12–18 are set in the country, close to nature.

- Ya' know? It's this kind of thing. Not that I don't support kids being out in the country, close to nature. Moo.

YES to vocational education, expanding the "Cato Concept", renovating buildings built in the 1960's, building new neighborhood schools outfitted with the latest technology, a band room, and a foreign language teacher as well as beefing up FULL magnet schools with very distinct curriculums like Northwest School of the Arts.


Anonymous said...

On second thought...

Perhaps an "overlap" model should include busing urban high school students to Boone?


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