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Mecklenburg commissioners, CMS resolve dispute, reach agreement providing more than $60M to school district

Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 6:11 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2021 at 7:48 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have resolved their dispute and reached an agreement that will provide more than $60 million in funding to the school district.

The money is coming from the county’s budget for Fiscal Year 2022.

On Wednesday night, the Board of County Commissioners voted 9-0 in agreeance with a mediation settlement agreement to release $56 million of the restricted allocation to CMS, plus provide an additional $11 million in operating funds for the coming school year.

This brings the total to at least $67 million to be provided to the school district.

“We are pleased to announce that after engaging in the mediation process, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education have reached an agreement to resolve the current dispute,” said Dunlap. “Both Boards have worked collaboratively through their respective working groups to identify ways to improve transparency and provide more clarity and focus on the education of the children in Mecklenburg County and to provide additional resources to improve educational outcomes for students in Mecklenburg County.”

At Tuesday’s County Commissioners meeting, Board Chair George Dunlap and County Manager Dena R. Diorio announced that the statutorily required mediation process between the Board of County Commissioners and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Board of Education was a success.

Previously, the county was withholding $56 million from the school district, demanding the district put out a plan on closing learning gaps.

Now, the county says The CMS Board of Education agreed to place an increased focus on improving student outcomes through the Student Outcomes-Focused Governance model and will work with a consultant on the implementation.

The model includes clearly defining goals to improve student outcomes, redesigning board meetings to focus on the goals, and conducting annual evaluations of the Superintendent based on those goals.

Officials say the board of education will share information on the model in a facilitated workshop with County Commissioners.

The Board of Commissioners has agreed to provide an additional $11.2 million for a total FY2022 increase of $17.3 million in operating funding. The Board of Commissioners will also provide up to $1 million, to be held by the County, and available to CMS for specific expenses associated with consultant costs and website improvements that will improve access and transparency to the public on implementing Student Outcomes-Focused Governance.

Overall, Dunlap says the agreement was reached in the spirit of cooperation and represents the first step to an ongoing commitment to improving the educational outcomes, particularly for children of color, residing in Mecklenburg County.

Last month, District five commissioner Laura Meier voted against withholding the funding from CMS and says this proposal would be a win for students.

“Whatever we come up with I’m glad that there’s an end in sight and that hopefully from this point on, we can move forward, we can work together with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools and we can work together for the benefit of our children,” Meier said.

CMS English teacher Justin Parmenter agreed and said the funding will greatly benefit students and CMS employees.

“The bottom line is more resources especially in this area when know we’re talking about hiring principals and assistant principals. It puts us in a much better position to have the kind of leadership in our schools that we know is going to mean stability for the staff there, there’s going to be effective leadership for our students,” Parmenter said.

At a meeting on June 7, there was two hours of back and forth between the CMS Board and county commissioners.

“We are delighted to turn the page on this budget dispute. The children of Mecklenburg County need us to work together on their behalf,” said Board of Education Chair Elyse Dashew. “We look forward to collaborating with the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners -- respectfully and strategically, in accordance with our distinct roles and responsibilities. This kind of collaboration is key to making progress in addressing the systemic issues that challenge so many of our students.”

The Board of Education will make available on their website, www.cms.k12.nc.us, School Improvement Plans, which they will update with new data in the fall, and annually thereafter. The School Improvement Plans will include identified goals, actions, and progress toward achieving the plan goals for all low-performing schools.

These plans will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis, in a single location on the CMS website.

In addition, the site will provide the annual “State of the School Report” with opportunities and challenges for each improvement plan. The Board of Education has also made the data and annual targets that support their strategic plan available on their website.

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