Cover Story: Students speak - where CMS can cut

By Jeff Atkinson - bio | email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools taking drastic cuts to the point of laying off teachers.  One group has some money saving ideas.  They're people whose opinion unfortunately is being overlooked in this debate over cuts.  You want to find out how an organization finds real savings.. talk to the people at ground zero.  In this case, we talked to the students.  PrimeTime's Jeff Atkinson has our Cover Story.

They're members of "Mecklenburg Youth Voice" along with their adviser with whom we met with afternoon.

A group consisting of CMS high school students interested in government and giving students a voice.

Last January, when it became clear CMS would have to slash its budget "Mecklenburg Youth Voice" began looking in six areas CMS could cut.

Area one, the classroom.  West Charlotte senior Olivia Scott says the district need to concentrate on the basics and could reduce the number of electives.

"Ping pong. Just so many weird and random classes," she says.  "If you could consolidate those into one class and have a central teacher doing.. we can't have everything. Limiting that and pulling it down cutting back where we can."

Area two.. involves students.

Myers Park junior Antar Azan says make students pay for Advanced Placement tests.  Right now CMS pays 86 dollars per student per test which can add up.

In resources the students say CMS could see savings.  Transferring books for example between schools.. instead of ordering more.

"Transferring within a district. It doesn't help to have books stored away in a closet and other schools still needing some. If we get electrical.. I have this many books.. all it takes is a phone call and you can get it evened out."

The district wastes paper.. use the internet as a resource to cut down on waste, they say.

Area 5.. is administration.

The students of "Mecklenburg Youth Voice" say instead of eliminating teachers across the board find jobs that can be doubled up.

Rotate front desk positions such as registrar from school to school.. like school nurses.

And finally transportation .. an area the students looked to save money.

In neighborhoods where it's possible, integrate school bus transportation with CATS.

"Work with the government. Work with the city and use CATS system to transport students. --- Save money on bus drivers and fuel using every day."

The students don't have a firm figure on how much their cuts could save CMS.. certainly it doesn't add up to the 34 million dollars in savings the district needs.

To get that much--- you have to cut salaries where the majority of your money's spent.

But the students do have attention of CMS top brass and some on the school board.. and hope to implement some of their savings in the future.

"Mecklenburg Youth Voice" is hosting a Leadership Summit on Wednesday, May 20, 2009.

Want to know more?  Call (704) 343-6999.  E-mail or visit