CMS school board approves $1.6 billion budget

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Tuesday night, Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board unanimously approved Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox's total $1.6 billion budget without discussion.

Board members say they were in lockstep this budget season.

The budget includes raises for teachers and school board members, money to beef up security at schools, and proposed funds to hire more social workers, counselors, and psychologists.

"We've been lean and mean for several years," CMS School Board Vice Chairperson Rhonda Lennon said. "It's time to really plump up a few of our departments. We really have to address the shortage of social workers and psychologists in our schools."

The budget includes getting more than $468 million from Mecklenburg County. That is nearly $40 million more than CMS received last year.

Board members say more and more students are coming to the classrooms in need of mental and emotional support. They say the budget addresses that need.

"We really have a significant ground to make up just to be up to national average on those,"  Board Member Rhonda Cheek said. "If we don't start moving on it now, we are never going to catch up."

CMS will submit its budget to the county May 15. Board members say the extra money is needed from the county to help kids succeed. No word what will happen if the county doesn't fully fund CMS' request.

"We haven't really addressed that yet," Cheek said.  "Because we are hopeful,hopefully optimistic. Hopefully they will surprise me. I would love to have the county commission surprise me."

The Mecklenburg County manager will make a recommendation on how much to give CMS on May 22.

The Board of County Commissioners and the community will weigh in on the budget before it is approved by commissioners on June 19.

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