CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - On Tuesday night, the CMS school board passed its 2020-2021 budget for the year. The total proposed budget is $1.7 billion and the plan is focused on the most pressing needs for students, according to the superintendent.
The budget is a 2.4 percent increase from last year’s approved budget, according to Tuesday’s presentation. The board is asking for nearly $38 million more.
“Our students, our staff and our support.” That’s what the proposed budget plan is focused on for the 2020-2021 CMS school year. Some of the budget is specifically dedicated to the emotional support of students.
“It includes funding for 15 social workers, five psychologists, 15 counselors and two intensive behaviorists,” said CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston.
Winston says the future of education during the COVID-19 pandemic is unclear and that’s why the need for support program is so important.
“I think when you look at the efforts to provide social and emotional support prior to the crisis, I think wed all agree that this support was needed," Winston said. "Now more than ever our children are going to need these supports, and then some, to navigate through these crisis and beyond.”
Part of the budget will also go to increasing salaries, including a 2.1 percent increase in salary for certified staff. Hourly employees will now make a minimum of $14.11.
Some board members say that minimum wage is not enough.
“About 3,100 employees in CMS make less than $15 an hour and that is a problem that frankly we recreate and then rely on social services and volunteer agencies to fix it and that comes at a cost as well" said CMS board member Carol Sawyer. "While I support the budget, I am troubled that we are helping to create a problem that we then have to martial our community partners to help fix.”
The budget passed with eight board members voting yes, and only one voting against it.
The CMS Board also approved for the construction phases to begin on the the new West Charlotte High School and the Olympic Relief High School.
The CMS Superintendent says construction should start on those schools later this week. They will both have 100 classroom and serve about 2,500 students when they’re completed in August of 2022.