CMS board member, Meck. County commissioner discuss county manager’s budget recommendation for 2023
CMS requested $40 million extra dollars, the county manager is recommending half the amount
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Could another budget battle between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Mecklenburg County Leaders be on the way?
CMS is requesting $40 million more than last year, and last week, the Mecklenburg County manager Dena Diorio recommended the county put up half.
“I’m disappointed. I think one of the challenges we have to face is that we have about $21 millionof increases in expenses that we have to pay, so receiving less than that means cuts and difficult decisions will have to be made,” said District 4 Board member Carol Sawyer.
Last summer, both boards spent weeks in a budget battle after commissioners threatened to withhold $56 million.
The boards came to an agreement in July 2021. Previously, the county was withholding $56 million from the school district, demanding the district put out a plan on closing learning gaps.
Part of CMS’ request includes close to 21 million dollars in requirements including funding the charter school enrollment growth, matching the state and local funding pay increases, staff, and maintenance for two new schools. If CMS doesn’t get the full $40 million, it will have to make cuts and arrangements from other funding to take care of its fixed expenses.
“Based on the County Manager’s proposed budget, CMS will not have the discretionary local funds needed to implement an increase in our local county salary supplement, a much-needed salary increase for Teacher Assistants, or preventative maintenance on many of our schools,” said CMS Board Chair Elyse Dashew. “We are hopeful that the Commissioners will listen to the community over the next few weeks and fully fund CMS’s budget request.”
CMS also proposed investing $6 million to increase the starting pay for teacher assistants to $16.50 an hour; as of right now this amount is not included in the county manager’s recommendation.
“Do we not do initiatives so we can offer some sort of pay raise to our teaching assistants,” Sawyer questioned.
Nearly 900 teachers have left the district since August. District 6 County Commissioner Susan Rodriguez-McDowell says now isn’t the time to cut corners.
“I believe we’re in a crisis and I don’t believe the manager’s budget meets the crisis,” Rodriguez-McDowell said.
WBTV asked both women about the possibility of another budget battle or dispute like last year, they’re hoping that’s not the case.
“I hope we don’t have to go there, but we have to do what’s best for the kids and families in Mecklenburg County, and having qualified teachers, teacher assistants, and staff in your schools is essential to a successful school system,” Sawyer said.
“I don’t think that’ll happen again but I don’t think that means it’s going to go down smoothly just because it’s not going to happen that way again,” Rodriguez-McDowell said.
Rodriguez-McDowell says she is supporting an increase in funding for CMS.
“I think there will be a few of us that will advocate for more, to CMS for more of their ask, but I think it’s going to be very difficult to get five votes for that,” she said.
The county-funded 98 percent of the school district’s budget last year compared to a possible 97 percent this year. The last time the county-funded the total CMS budget request was in 2012 at 105 percent.
Mecklenburg County is holding a public hearing on the budget this Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The public will have an opportunity to provide input on Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio’s budget recommendations for FY2023 before the budget is adopted by the Board of County Commissioners.
Anyone who wishes to comment at the public hearing can call 980-314-2914 or email clerk@MeckNC.gov. The deadline to submit comments or to register is Tuesday, May 24 at 5 p.m
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