CMS agrees to meet with county leaders after tense war of words over budget

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 11:08 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Mecklenburg County Commission Chair George Dunlap is standing by his comments he made against Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) Superintendent Earnest Winston.

Dunlap called Winston just a teacher and questioned if he was up for the job.

Dunlap said he has no regrets.

“People have talked about me in this community for the last 26 years,” Commission Chair George Dunlap said. “A lot of people had said some really mean things to me in 26 years, people still say mean things to me. You know you have to put the big boy pants on if you want to play in this game.”

Dunlap said he is pressing CMS at the request of his fellow commissioners.

He understands CMS is trying to still educate students through a pandemic - he thinks now is a good time to demand results.

“So what’s wrong with that,” Dunlap said. “But what do we do? We let another generation of kids fail because now it’s not the right time. That’s asinine.”

CMS Board members say they are 100 percent behind Winston and called Dunlap’s words unprofessional and disrespectful.

Dunlap offered to speak with CMS leadership about the county’s request and threat.

He announced that at Tuesday night’s county commissioner’s meeting.

The county is recommending to withhold $56 million from CMS’ budget until the district gives an academic plan to the county that will address the achievement gap of Black students attending 42 low-performing schools.

“We haven’t defunded CMS,” Dunlap said. “$56 million - we’re saying we still have that money. We’re just going to hold on to it until you give us what we ask.”

CMS leadership agreed to meet with Mecklenburg County leaders next Tuesday to discuss the budget battle.

WBTV reached out to several CMS board members and asked about meeting with county leadership and how the two boards can move forward after a tense war of words.

CMS Board Member Rhonda Cheek says a meeting is needed but recommends have a neutral third party moderate the meeting so it could be productive.

Board Member Dr. Ruby Jones believes the dialogue should be respectful between board members.

Board member Lenora Shipp believes in collaboration and it should remain professional and Board Member Sean Strain says he is always open to talk to elected leaders and the outcomes of students but believes the Board of Education should take the lead on education.

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