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People speak out about Mecklenburg County manager’s proposed budget withholding money from CMS

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 7:44 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The community is sounding off about the Mecklenburg County Manager’s proposal to withhold $56 million from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Commissioners say the money that could be held hostage is money that helps fund school leadership, accountability, human resources, policy and public relations.

County Commissioner Mark Jerrell explains why the proposed action will not harm students.

“From my understanding, it’s not impacting anything that’s classroom-related,” Jerrell said.

Education advocates disagree. Pamela Grundy reached out to Jerrell to tell him her displeasure over the proposal. She responds about Jerrell claiming the money would not impact classroom instruction.

“It’ll completely impact students and staff,” Grundy said. “Because CMS is a whole system. Everything works together.”

Grundy says she understands why commissioners are frustrated about test scores for Black and Brown students not being proficient, but she says CMS is not alone in the fight to educate all students.

“The problem is that you’re dealing with a really difficult situation that no one across the country has been able to deal with,” Grundy said. “To solve what you need to fix it is resources that are effectively directed and doing this does not do that. It’s basically saying, well, you’re not trying enough - try harder...I think the school board is doing what they can do to try to improve the situation.”

Jerrell says it’s time for the county to hold CMS accountable.

“Anytime you’re investing almost 3/4 of a billion dollars into any entity,” Jerrell said. “I think accountability is something the community is screaming for so. I definitely think it is warranted.”

The politician says all CMS has to do is offer a plan on how to make things better for students and the school district can move forward.

“What most commissioners are looking for is an understanding of how we are going to get out of this hole,” the Jerrell said. “How are we going to make sure that no matter where you live in this county - that you can receive a great education...The level of your education should not be determined by your zip code or your socio-economic status.”

Amanda Rice is President-Elect for Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators. She believes it’s time for both CMS and county commissioners to work together.

“Everybody wants our students to succeed,” Rice said. “And how that destination looks different for both parties. But I need them to come together and walk hand in hand to make this dream, this vision, definitely a reality for our students.”

Rice will soon represent thousands of CMS teachers. She believes holding the money sends a bad message to teachers.

“I think as educators,” Rice said. “Withholding money from our students, that’s what it boils down to - holding money from CMS is withholding money from our students. It’s very disheartening.”

People are hoping more dialogue will change the minds of the county manager and county commissioners.

“One thing that gives me lots of hope and opportunity,” Rice said. “Is that this was only a recommendation.”

Jerrell says he will listen to voters before making a final decision. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday and people on both sides are expected to address county commissioners.

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