Budget public hearing held as debate continues on withholding money from CMS

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 11:39 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - With a pending deliberation set for the proposed fiscal year 2022 budget for Mecklenburg County, a public hearing was held Wednesday night.

Last week, county manager Dena Diorio proposed to withhold $56 million from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools until a plan could be provided to close the gaps in education.

Many topics were brought up during the public hearing but the majority were centered around Diorio’s proposal.

“We cannot get our way out of disparities by withholding money,” said Ray McKinnon.

“I believe it does fall on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners to follow the recommendation of the county manager,” added Glen Stephens.

The county has recommend $526 million for the district’s operating budget and to withhold the $56 million.

Diorio fought back criticism Tuesday saying the categories where the money would be withheld would not hit the classroom.

“We are not taking money from kids. We are not taking money from anybody. And the other thing I will say, this is based on the board’s priority,” she said. “You said to me at our retreat, think outside the box and find a way to improve educational outcomes and tie funding to budget allocation. I did what you told me to do.”

While some argue this is a way to hold CMS accountable, some educators disagreed.

“I can tell you again as a current CMS teacher that this severely lowers staff morale,” said Liz Martinez.

“Our children, your grandchildren, nieces and nephews are watching. I implore you to show them the right way to do a group project...together with collaboration fully fund CMS request,” added Amanda Thompson-Rice.

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