CMS Board Meeting: Board Hears Final Budget Report


The CMS Board of Education met at 6:21 pm on September 23rd, 2014 in room 267 of the government center. Only one board member, District 6 Representative Paul Bailey, was absent. The board voted 8-0 in favor of the agenda and the consent items.


Dr. Morrison spoke about new personel in CMS. Marita Brown-Little is the new principal at Steele Creek Elementary. Morrison is impressed at how many facts Brown-Little knows about Steele Creek. Diane Weston is the new principal at Hawthorne Elementary. Weston is coming from Chicago, Illinois. District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon asked about Weston and when she will be coming to CMS. Morrison explained that Weston will be coming to CMS in the next several weeks.


Dr. Morrison made a few initial comments on the newly finalized operating budget. Sheila Shirley and Dennis Covington gave the presentation on the operating budget. Shirely explained that it is very problematic when there are changes in the second year of the biennial budget and then the call for the vote on this same budget is late in the schedule. Usually, the state budget and county budget have been finalized long before the start of the fall school schedule. The State of North Carolina education funding comprises 57% of the CMS budget.


The state(North Carolina) is funding fewer teacher’s assistants for the second year in a row. The state is also funding fewer classroom teachers in second and third grade. Over 77 teacher positions were not allocated until late in the summer. There is a $10.6 million dollar gap in the funding for teacher’s assistants. CMS may also be facing an additional reduction in transportation funding from the state of $3 – $5 million dollars.


Dr. Morrison explained that CMS students comprise almost 10% of the students state wide. He also explained that CMS was hopeful for a technical correction but this did not happen.


Morrison also explained that CMS has larger enrollment growth this fall(2014) than the state anticipated. Shirley talked about the budget presentation. The actual enrollment numbers on the 20th day for CMS are 145,112. In February, CMS projected 143,366 students. In April, the state anticipated CMS would have 144,618 students. In August, the state anticipated CMS would have 141,845. Each time the state anticipated a number it was too low. Even in August of 2014, the 141,845 is much lower than the actual number of 145,112. That’s a gap in enrollment numbers of 3,267. CMS still has yet to receive money from the state to eduate these children. Some of these 3,267 children are undocumented and some of the math errors are due to charter schools. The bottom line is that CMS has 145,112 students, over crowded classrooms and not enough money. CMS is hopeful that the state will soon correct this.


Morrison is very concerned about how DPI(Department of Public Instruction) is accounting for the new charter school enrollment numbers. Morrison stated that some students are enrolled in CMS schools and in several charters at the same time. This skews the actual numbers for CMS and the charter schools.


Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan thanked the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioiners for voting to make the local match for CMS teachers. Morgan stated that we(CMS Board) appreciate the vote of the 8 members of the county that made this happen.


Morgan asked Sheila Shirley if the at risk number was a cut? Teacher assistants were non-funded? Is that correct? Morgan stated that he just wants to make sure he has the correct definitions.


Sheila Shirley stated that yes, teacher positions are non-funded. $10.6 million is a combination, the teachers are non-funded versus a cut, explained Shirely. Part of this money was the $1.1 million that we(CMS) expected to get and they(north carolina general assembly – ncga) did not fund growth, Shirley explained. So those two components of the cut they(ncga) decided were not a cut. We(CMS) obviously have shown it as a cut because it was a cut to our budget.


Morgan asked, is the fact that it was non-funded versus a cut, is that supposed to make me feel better? Morgan went on to state that there are definitions out there being used. As the person who makes the decisions on how this district gets run, you can call it non-funded all you want. If it walks and quacks and looks like a cut, it’s a cut. So let’s be upfront about that. I think that’s how our(CMS) parents are going to take it(definitions).


Morgan also asked Shirely about transportation changes. There’s some changes happening with driver’s education, stated Morgan. Is that in this year’s budget or next year’s budget, asked Morgan.


Sheila Shirley explained that it(cut) will be in next year’s budget.


Morgan talking to the other board members and audience, next year’s budget folks. You think transportation cuts are bad this year, let’s go ahead and talk about next year, Morgan stated. All funds for driver’s ed are going to be taken out of the state budget, Morgan explained. But we are going to be given, as a local LEA(Local Education Authority) the opportunity to charge $65 dollars per student to recoup the cost of driver’s ed. There’s just one problem, the average cost per student to actually provide driver’s ed depending on which district you are in, is somewhere around $250- $325 per student, explained Morgan. As we(CMS) prepare for the next year’s budget and as we have no clue what we are going to get for growth, just know that’s an expenditure already coming our way from changes that were made this year, stated Morgan. Just want to pass that good news along, Morgan said talking to other board members and the audience.


Morgan went on to ask, do we(CMS) anticipate that DPI(Department of Public Instruction) will still provide a look a growth estimates in the winter like they(DPI) have been doing? Is there even an incentive for them(DPI) to do that now that growth is going to be cut or no longer funded?


Dr. Morrison stated, that is a great question. Sheila and I were on many phone calls to DPI. Also Sheila made many phone calls(to DPI). We are trying to understand the cut in TA’s(teacher’s assistants). Was it a cut? Was it a gap? Interesting working on this, they(state) said there wasn’t a cut but was working on a correction to fix the cut. The change in the growth issue, Morrison explained, I trust Scott McCully’s numbers more. 1,000 times out of 1,000 times more(than state numbers). If they(state) are not going to guarantee that the state will fund the growth, that is not the problem. The problem is if there is going to be growth, will they(state) funding it(growth)?


Morgan asked Shirely, Ms. Shirley, you have a budget analysts or a few or one or two in your department, correct? The state(NC) has budget analysts also? They do similar jobs? Has anybody at the state provided you a reason why the budget analysts at the state now have bonus’ two times as large as Sheila’s budget ananylsts’ bonus’? Bus drivers, others workers who literally do the same job at CMS are getting $500 versus the $1,000 dollars the state employees are getting?


Shirely answered yes to all of the above questions and then further explained that the state employees will also have five bonus leave days on top of the bonus money.


Morgan restated, plus they got five bonus leave days on top of that, education employees did not get. Fascinating, Morgan stated. The other thing that’s scary, we are in the process of trying to hire these teachers, in a pool that’s really not the strongest at this point in the year, to fill vacancies. Total number of students, in the 6 north carolina state schools, that are education majors, total number of students in the last four or five years, has gone down by about 5,000 students. That’s a challenge. The people who come into this profession, they’ve seen how much they are valued and they(teachers) are walking and that’s the part that scares me, Morgan explained. Those teachers that we want in the classroom have decided, you know what I can go do somehting where I’m more valued, where I can more more money. And that’s the part that really, really concerns me from a public education stand point and that’s something that should not just scare us. Charter schools and Private schools should also worried about this. Because, a number of folks who are coming out as education majors are going to be dwindling and the fact is we(CMS) have shown we are still a growing community. This is a concern I will have going forward.


Dr. Morrison explained that he has talked about this with our charter school colleagues. Morrison has talked about the new process of enrollment. This process affects existing charter schools as well. When a new charter school comes on board they are trying to get students. Whether they get them(students) from CMS or whether they get them from another charter school, they are trying to attract students. Not just CMS will be impacted from this. Currect charter schools, not just a small band or a small number of schools, every school is potentially impacted by this lack of process.


Morgan explained, to Shirley, at this point I usually thank you(Shirely) and Dennis(Covington) for everything you have done, but your staff has just been phenomenal. I look forward to seeing you in about two months as you prview next year’s budget. But I’m scared to death about what’s that is going to look like and how many holes we’re going to have and how many question marks that are going to be out there. So what I would offer(To Shirley and Covington), is to stay close to Jonathan Sink, to make sure that as the IRC(Intergovernmental Relationships Committee) puts together it’s legislative agenda, your concerns are included on that(legislative agenda). Because, that is something that we as a board, are going to absolutely have to be the mouthpiece of your part of our organization. Thank you very much!


The board of education voted 8-0 to adopt this the new finalized version of the budget.


Denise Watts gave the Project LIFT update presentation. Watts played a wonderful video for the board. This video features LIFT students talking about why they love school and why they love their teachers. Project LIFT has an increasing number of private-public partnerships. Team Smile is a new partner with LIFT. Team Smile helps with any dental needs for LIFT students. Watts is also proud that LIFT has been able to retain many of their staff, year to year. LIFT only had four vacancies at the beginning of the school year.


The next regular board meeting will be October 14th, 2014 at 6:00 pm in the chamber of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.




CMS: September 8th, 2014: Board Hears Strategic Staffing Report

The CMS Board of Education met at 6:04 pm on September 9th, 2014 in the chamber of the government center. All board members were present. The board approved the agenda by a vote of 9-0.

Eighteen public speakers spoke to the board. Three talked about the overcrowding at Huntingdown Farms Elementary. One gentleman spoke about a new anti-bullying program. Seven talked about re-opening Oakhurst Elementary as a STEM(Science Technology Engineering and Math) Partial Magnet. According to the speakers, this re-opening is needed in order to alieviate overcrowding at: Myers Park High, East Mecklenburg High, Harding High, Sedgefield Middle, Eastway Middle, McClintock Middle, Morningstar Elementary and Billingsville Elementary. Six talked about the need to change the policy on how parent volunteers are chosen to help in the schools. These community members and parents want a passport to be allowed as a way for parents to qualifiy to volunteer. One gentleman spoke about the board self-evaluation and on the new ¼ cent sales tax referendum that will be on the November ballot.

Ann Clark and Danielle Hunter gave the presentation on the Post-Opening of Schools. There are still 116 vacancies for teachers in CMS. There are 35.5 openings in the elementaries, 15 in middle schools and 20 in high schools.

District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon ask Dr. Morrison what is hindering us(CMS) from finding people for these vacancies? Dr. Morrison stated that some parents decided to enroll the same children in new charter schools and in CMS. Dr. Morrison stated that DPI(Department of Public Instruction) will be able to update these numbers in the next few weeks. Morrison hopes that these not so firm numbers will be more firm so that CMS can make decisions on how many teachers are needed.

Lennon thanked Carol Stamper and her team in transportation for the great job they are doing with the diverging diamond in the rough in the northern part of 77. Lennon stated that she is happy that CMS has a larger ridership on the buses. Lennon stressed that everyone must stop when you see the buses.

Talla Brenthouse, Shauna Bell and Frank Barnes gave the Strategic Staffing Report. Frank Barnes highlighted the goals and the four year cohort graduation rates. Barnes is thrilled that the graduation rate is has increased again. 85.2% is the latest CMS graduation rate. This is above the national and the state average! Over the past four years the graduation rates have gone up at CMS.

District 6 Representative Paul Bailey ask about the KPI’s(Key Performance Indicators). He asked about absences and suspensions. Bailey asked if CMS has looked across the nation and state at other LEA’s(Local Education Agency) to see the comparible numbers. Bailey asked if this data is available. Barnes explained that CMS can look at the ACT test compared to the others in North Carolina. Barnes further stated that all graduating seniors must take the ACT(American College Testing). Barnes also explained that some CMS data does not transfer to data elsewhere.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan thanked Dr. Morrison for the increase in the graduation rate. Morgan had a conversation with another elected official in Charlotte this week. This particiular elected official stated that the current graduation rate numbers are bogus. Morgan stressed that the comments by this elected official are an insult to the hard work of CMS teachers, principals, staff and workforce.

Morgan has been on the CMS Board for five years now. Morgan thanked the hard working staff of CMS. He thanked the bus drivers, teachers, cafeteria workers and community and school volunteers. Morgan explained to the board that they still have alot of work to do about getting the message out about gains. He stated that these gains happpened when CMS had a serious lack of resources. Morgan thinks back to the Mallard Creek Initiative when the senior staff took ownership of the graduation rates. The graduation rates at Mallard Creek went up much more than their peers thanks to the hard work around this initiative. Morgan also is remembers when Project LIFT(Leadership and Investment For Transformation) was started. He wants the key lessons from Project LIFT expanded to other CMS schools. Morgan also talked about ‘restore the roar’ for all west side schools. He also talked about Ardrey Kell High and Providence High. He stated that these two schools have a healthy competition that is ongoing to increase the graduation rates. Morgan explained to District 1 Representative Lennon that this increase in graduation rates also will happen at Hough High.

Morgan remembers when EOC’s(End of Course), EOG’s(End of Grade) and ACT test scores started increasing ahead of the state average. Morgan explained that some have said that the graduation rate is a bogus number and he stressed that it is NOT a bogus number. Morgan said that the leadership of principals and teachers have increased the CMS graduation rate. Morgan is proud that CMS has seen great success in spite of deep budget cuts.

Dr. Morrison explained that public education is not broken. CMS has been impacted more than anyone in North Carolina with the recent deep budget cuts. CMS lost $950,000 and had deep funding cuts for teachers assistants for two years. Morrison wants to tell prominent leaders in Raleigh that teachers need to be paid more. CMS is still not funded better. Morrison is frustrated at the gap of funding from all funding partners. Morrison stressed that he does not like that the summer cohort numbers do not count in the four year cohort graduation rate.

Morgan also reminded all that Jonathan Sink just emailed board members the new legislative agenda. Morgan stated that the NCSBA(North Carolina School Board Assocation) Delegate Assembly is ongoing. He reminded all that board members need to weigh in on what they think about this new agenda. The IRC(Intergovernmental Relationships Committee) meets on the last Thursday of the month, September 25th at 9:00 am.

The next CMS Regular Board Meeting will be September 23rd, 2014 at 6:00 pm in room 267 of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.


CMS: 082614: Board Hears Report On MWSBE Participation

The CMS Board of Education met at 6:00 pm on August 26th, 2014 in room 267 of the government center. All nine board members were present.

Dr. Morrison gave a quick report on the first day of school. CMS still has 60 teacher open positions and 42 teacher assistants. All of the rest of the jobs at CMS in the classroom are filled. Morrison thanked Carol Stamper and her team in transportation for an excellent job done despite financial cuts. The last student was off the last bus at 7:20 pm, beating last year’s time by 20 minutes. Morrison is sorry that a student was injured while crossing the street. This accident did not happen on CMS property. Morrison also thanked Latarzja Henry for the great job at planning the staff party at Time-Warner/Hornets Arena.

District 4 Representative Tom Tate gave the first reading for a new policy, policy BAA. This policy will govern the new self-evaluation for the school board. Tate explained that earlier in the month the policy committee met. During that meeting, four members of the policy committee voted for this policy.

Dr. Morrison stated that not all boards do self-evaluations. Chairperson Mary McCray noted that this self-evaluation will also be transparent.

Chiquitha Lloyd gave the M/W/SBE(Minority, Women & Small Business Enterprise) Presentation. This tracks how well CMS is following it’s goals regarding the number of M/W/SBE businesses win contracts with CMS. The M/W/SBE Department with CMS is in it’s 21st year. This department was started in 1993. This department did meet it’s goods goal for the first time.

There is new legislation in Raleigh concerning the re-qualification process involving MWSBE. The wording of the current bill specifies that board members will be more involved in the re-qualification process.

CPCC is now teamed up with the CMS MWSBE Department for a new initiative. This would involve hosting CPCC students for internships and possibly later as employees. CMS now has 26 new MWSBE contractors and this brings the total to 300 contractors.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked Lloyd if the city and the county have high aspirational goals like CMS does. Lloyd explained that the county’s goals do line up with the goals of CMS. Morgan asked if CMS’s MWSBE goals are more aggressive. Lloyd stated that yes, the CMS goals are more aggressive.

CMS’s original disparity study for MWSBE was done ten years ago in 2004. Morgan stated that in that ten years there have been severe economic highs and lows. Morgan explained that he would welcome the idea of CMS re-doing this disparity study to reflect the changes in the local community dynamics. CMS has a new $290 million dollar bond. Morgan stated that some businesses are bigger and some have gone under in that ten year period. Lloyd explained that CMS is relying on a disparity study done by the city in 2011-2012. Morgan looks forward to the staff recommendations regarding a new disparity study.

District 6 Representative Paul Bailey stated that this entire MWSBE idea relies on competition. Bailey asked if there are studies showing what CMS would have spent if there was not a MWSBE Department. Lloyd explained that recently CMS saved over $1 million dollars on four projects. The disparity study in 2004 came in at a cost of $168,000. This is spending $168,000 to save over $1 million dollars.

Associate Counsel Jonathan Sink gave the Legislative Update Presentation. HB 1224 was voted down by a vote of 54-47. This bill had several parts, including a provision to cap the local sales tax at 2.5%. Mecklenburg was grandfathered into HB 1224. This was a three bill bundle. Dr. Morrison is concerned that one of the provisions of this bill would have taken away the power of the CMS board to control budget dollars.

Sink stated that HB 718 would have helped to curb the gap in teacher’s assistant dollars across the state. Dr. Morrison stated that he hoped that there would be a technical correction bill but this did not happen.

Sink explained that SB744 did pass the general assembly. This bill gives five bonus leave days and a $1,000 bonus to state employees only.  These benefits must be used each year or they will be lost. Other school employees will not be getting either of these benefits.

Sink also stated that the penciled in date for the new long session might be January 14th, 2015.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan stated that he had a comment for staff and the audience. Morgan thanked Jonathan Sink for spending more time in Raleigh than anyone from CMS. Morgan stated that Sink has done yeoman’s work in Raleigh. Morgan is happy with how well Sink has informed staff and the board with everything happening in Raleigh. Morgan thanked Sink for his hard work. This year, Morgan explained, was billed as a short session but went on much longer than we thought. Morgan also commented on one board member(District 3 Representative Joyce Waddell) who will be joining them(the general assembly). Morgan is looking forward to Sink’s participation in the long session next year.

The next regular school board meeting will be on September 9th, 2014 at 6:00 pm in the chamber of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.

CMS: August 12th, 2014: Board Hears Report on Beacon Initiative

The CMS Board of Education met at 6:00 pm on August 12th, 2014 in the chamber of the government center. All board members were present. The agenda was voted in by a measure of 9-0.

Several members of the public spoke and some talked about the quarter cent sales tax. All members of the board spoke about their concerns over the quarter cent sales tax. This new sales tax will be on the November ballot in the general election.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan reminded all that he has served on this (CMS) board for almost five years. In those five years, Morgan added, we’ve(CMS) done student reassignments, we’ve closed schools, we’ve saved school sports Miss(Rhonda) Lennon, we’ve endured layoffs that turned all of our stomachs, we’ve had annual budget processes that have been tough. Throughout that time(five years) the one priority this board has stuck with is the need for employee raises. The need for all of our employees, not just our teachers, to have the resources they need to be successful. We need to be able to attract top talent to CMS.

Morgan stated that he agrees with Miss Lennon that this is not the process that he would have picked and he personally thinks there are other ways to pay for this through additional dollars we get through the county but this is what we(CMS) have. This is what they(county) has given us(CMS). Because, as it has been stated here, we don’t have taxing authority. We are completely dependent on other bodies, whether it’s the general assembly or the county commissioners, to fund what we need and they have the ability each year to take those dollars away or to change priorities.

But the reality, Morgan continued,  is in my neighborhood, the schools that serve it, are losing teachers. We are about a mile from the South Carolina border. Hawk Ridge Elementary School this year has lost at least three teachers to South Carolina. Ardrey Kell High School, which my kids are graduates of, is loosing teachers, at least one phenomenal English teacher who has gone to the private sector in large part because we can’t compete. And I guarantee if you look at almost every school that CMS has, we have the same issues. We are loosing good teachers to other districts, to other states (and) to the private sector. And we’ve (CMS) got to be able to stop the bleeding.

Now, Morgan stated,  while I appreciate everything the general assembly has done this year, this is the first time, since I’ve been on the board that we’ve seen a substantial salary increase. The reality is it(increase) goes into a state salary structure, so if you’re a teacher in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, you’re on the same salary structure if you’re a teacher in Eastern North Carolina or Western North Carolina or a rural area. And the bottom line is, we know it’s more expensive to live in an urban area, like the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. The state constitution recognizes this, they provide local communities with the opportunity to supplement the local education dollars. And we have that through our local supplements for pay.

What I would argue, Morgan stated, I would have chosen to do this differently, but here’s the difference, here’s one of the reasons I would support it(tax increase). I’m an unabashed fan of taxing authority, I’m an unabashed fan of getting the county out of our(CMS) budget and letting us work with the state on the budget. To me, the quarter cent sales tax, provides voters with the opportunity to direct where their resources, where their tax dollars are going. It doesn’t happen very often, but this is an opportunity for the voters to say that.

The other reason, Morgan said, we’ve heard from several members of the general assembly this year that the State of North Carolina funds public education at 11th in the nation.  And they have also followed that, with there’s a need for the locals to step up. Well this provides this community the opportunity to put in place a broad based tax that everybody pays to help support public education. With that, I look forward to working with the county leadership and bringing this to the community and making the case for why this is needed for CMS employees. Thank you.

The CMS Board voted 8-1 for the quarter cent sales tax. District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon was the lone no vote on this measure.

Ann Clark, Janelle Hunter and Shawn Turner gave the Presentation on the Pre-Opening of Schools. CMS is expecting 754 more students in a few weeks for the start of school. CMS has new options in the types of schools.  Some of the new options are: two new Middle Colleges, two new learning approach programs, more STEM and STEAM schools and a new K-8 conversion at Mountain Island Lake Academy. All of the schools have new operating systems on the computers. All of CMS schools now have wireless access. CMS is also opening two new schools. These schools are: Trillium Springs Montessori School and Palisades Park Elementary School.  Both of these new schools will help with overcrowding at adjacent elementaries. Another sign of growth is the addition of more mobile classrooms. CMS will have 57 more mobiles for this fall than one year ago. More buses are on Charlotte roads this fall.  Last year there were 993 buses on the road and this fall CMS needs 1,020 buses.

Dr. Kelly Gwaltney and Dr. Lynn LaCaria gave the Presentation on the Beacon Initiative. Strategic Staffing is being slowly phased out and the Beacon Initiative will soon start. This initiative is to help struggling schools in CMS that have historically been challenged. The University of Virginia will be helping with this new Beacon Initiative. Each of the initiatives for each school will be customized by members of the staff and the community. This is not a voluntary oppourtunity for schools to improve and upgrade learning. This is a manditory initiative for certain schools.

Jill Thompson and Sheralyn Fields gave the Presentation on Personalized Learning. This is a voluntary opportunity for schools to improve and upgrade learning.

The next regular board meeting will be August 26th, 2014 at 6:00 pm in room 267 of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.


CMS: July 22nd, 2014: Board Hears Budget Update

The CMS Board of Education met on July 22, 2014 in the chamber of the government center. All board members were present except District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon.

The board named two new sports facilities at Olympic High School. Dr. Morrison only had one new staff member to announce. Crystal Lail is the new principal at Elizabeth Lane Elementary. She formerly was the principal fellow at Elizabeth Lane.

District 4 Representative Tom Tate talked about newly revised policy JJJ. This policy is about extracurricular activities. The specifics are about eligibility for all extracurricular activities at CMS. This policy does adhere to the rules of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association(NCHSAA). This new policy will impact students in August of 2014. The board voted 8-0 to adopt this newly revised policy.

Associate General Counsel Jonathan Sink gave the North Carolina State Budget Update Presentation. CMS might need to cut 427 teachers assistants, depending on the details of the final budget.

So far, the State House and State Senate can not agree on several key areas in education funding. The House wants a 6% teacher pay increase and the Senate wants an 8% teacher pay increase. The House would like see no teacher’s assistants lose their jobs and the Senate is proposing a $115 million dollar teacher assistant cut.

The house is also working on HB 1224. This would put a cap on local sales taxes. The Senate Finance Committee is meeting at 5:00 pm today to discuss HB 1224. Details of what was decided by this committee are not yet available.

Dr. Morrison stated that North Carolina is still spending very little on education compared to other states. North Carolina is 46th or 47th in education spending. He would like to see education be a greater priority for North Carolina legislators.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked Jonathan Sink if HB 1224 is strictly about local sales taxes. Sink explained that HB 1224 was originally about economic drivers. The piece of the HB 1224 bill concerning capping local sales taxes was later added to the legislation. Sink stated that this bill will now go the House for concurrence and then maybe to the full House after that time.

District 4 Representative Tom Tate is concerned about the lack of clarity around this new budget deal. Dr. Morrison stated that this budget uncertainty does make it difficult for human resources(HR) to do their jobs. Dr. Morrison said that CMS has placed a hold on hiring any new teacher’s assistants(TA). Dr. Morrison stated that lack of clarity about this budget is frustrating since CMS is not sure if TA’s are funded. HR Director Terry Cockerham explained that TA’s can be transfered to the exceptional children(EC) area if funding for TA’s is cut.

Dr. Morrison explained that if you compare the education funding now with education funding of ten years ago, K12 funding has dropped 5% in that time. CMS has to do more with less and with greater number of students. Dr. Morrison is also discouraged by the number of great teachers that are currently leaving CMS.

Dr. Morrison is saddened by the retirement of Karen Thomas. He remembers Thomas helping him knock on student’s doors when he was first superintendent. Dr. Morrison stated that Thomas has helped graduation rates increase and she will be greatly missed.

The next regular school board meeting will be at 6:00 pm on August 12th, 2014 in the chamber of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.

CMS: Board Hears Report On Child Nutrition: May 27th, 2014

The CMS Board met at 6:25 pm in room 267 of the government center on May 27th, 2014. All board members were present except District 5 Representative Eric Davis.

District 3 Representative Joyce Waddell pulled one item from the consent agenda. This item involves Newell Elementary. Waddell had heard that the parking lot for Newell and for Rocky River are adjoining. Guy Chamberlain explained that really the parking lots for Rocky River and Newell are not close at all. There is one mile between the two parking lots. Eventually, the entire consent agenda was approved 8-0.

Dr. Morrison introduced two new principals. Lavenda Denien is the new principal at Idlewild Elementary School. Jamie Tecza is the new principal at University Park Elementary.

The board voted to approve the new revisions to Policy KF: Community Use of Facilities. This brings more guidance and clarity on the fee structure and who is allowed to use CMS facilities. The board voted to approve this new revision on KF by a vote of 8-0.

Dr. Morrison intruduced Marie Slusser who gave the Presentation on the new main Calendar for 2015-2016. Slusser worked with the Calendar Committee to come up with two alternative calendars. There are now six makeup days built into this new calendar. Calendar option B did not have a full two weeks at Christmas and this is important to the public. The public selected calendar option A. Calendar option A does have a full two weeks at Christmas. The board voted to adopt calendar A by a vote of 8-0.

Kelly Gwaltney and a team of others gave the Presentation on Strategic Plan 2018. This part of the Strategic Plan concentrates on Goals 1, 2 and 6. Valda Valbrun, Jill Thompson, Kay Hall, Akeisha Craven-Howell, Terri Cockerham and Shauna Bell all helped with this presentation. One goal of this strategic plan is to ensure teachers voices are being better heard in CMS. Another point is to ensure teachers are getting the proper professional developmental choices.

The North-East Zone and the West Zone are both gaining one new zone superintedent each. District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon noted that the North Zone is not gaining a new zone superintendent. Lennon is very concerned that there are six overcrowded schools in the North Zone. Lennon hopes that soon there will be another zone superintedent in the North Zone.

Cindi Hobbs gave the presentation on Child Nutrition. Child Nutrition continues to make money instead of cost money. In addition to adding a new breakfast program, a second new program is soon to start. CMS will soon start feeding students supper.

In 2012-2013, CMS served 14.3 million lunches to the students and staff of CMS. The total income for Child Nutrition for 2012-2013 was $64.847 million. The fund balance for Child Nutrition is $23,961,782 as of June 2012. Recently, CMS had too much in the fund balance and they purchased some new items. These new items include: equipment, uniforms, POS systems and computers. CMS now has 20% more students eating breakfast than when this new program started. One of the main goals of Child Nutrition is to feed all of the CMS students while they are at school. CMS  has always fed all of the K-8 students, irregardless of whether or not they had money to pay for their meals.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked Hobbs if she anticipates a federal universal lunch program starting before she retires. Cindi Hobbs stated that the universal lunch program will happen but not before she retires. Morgan also thanked all of the Child Nutrition staff for their continuing excellent sanitation scores from Mecklenburg County. CMS Schools average a score of 99%. Morgan stressed that he is so proud of these ongoing high scores from all of the cafeterias and mobile food carts in CMS. Morgan stated that he wants to give a big thank you to all of the hard working staff for this accomplishment.

Frank Barnes and Lindsay Messenger gave the presentation on the Office of Accountability. CMS is proud of its ongoing relationships with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte(UNCC) and the University of South Carolina(USC). The Office of Accountability did a survey on Bright Beginnings partnership with UNCC. Several of the reports from this office will occur in the Fall of 2014.

The next regular board meeting will be at 6:00 pm on June 10th, 2014 at the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.

CMS: 051314: Board Votes On Proposed Budget

The CMS Board met on May 13th, 2014 at 6:01 pm in the chamber of the government center. The only board member not present was Chairperson Mary McCray. In the absence of Chairperson McCray, Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan was acting chairman for the night.

A very large crowd was in the chamber and not all who arrived were allowed inside the chamber. Several were inside the building but not in the chamber. There were people from the community lined up from the government building to Davidson Street.

District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon introduced the pledge leader who is focused on getting new backpacks for school children in Cameroon.

Eleven public speakers talked. Some talked about the budget and some talked about low teacher pay and the effects of low teacher pay.

Dr. Morrison introduced two new principals in CMS. Danielle Belton is the new principal at Paw Creek Elementary. Alejandra Garcia is the new principal at Nations Ford Elementary.

Dr. Morrison highlighted four key areas in the budget presentation: 1. $26.7 million for a 3% across the board staff pay increase;     2.  $3.5 million to operationalize and staff enw academic options and give a personalized digital learning plans for all students;     3.  $3.7 million for a new four-year plan to increase the number of: counselors, psychologists and social workers;   4. $1.2 million in county funds to provide intensive literacy training for teachers in grades one through three. The total CMS 2014-2015 budget ask is $1.380 billion.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan talked about what his family personally gained from public education. Morgan’s son entered UNC-Chapel Hill with 30 Credit Hours and this saved at least $20,000 in college tuition. Morgan’s daughter entered The University of South Carolina with in-state tuition. This is a savings of at least $20,000. Over the span of both of  the Morgan children’s college careers, this is a savings of $100,000.

Teacher pay raise is the most important part of this budget, according to Morgan. Every state that borders North Carolina pays better than North Carolina! Virgina, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. Increasing the starting pay of teachers will keep more teachers from walking away from North Carolina.

Morgan is most unhappy that South Carolina has North Carolina in it’s rear view mirror. Three teachers from Morgan’s children’s elementary school have walked away from North Carolina, in the past week.

CMS has very little to offer star teachers like Erlene Lyde and James Ford and this upsets Morgan. What can CMS offer the top performing teachers? CMS can offer a mere $500 per year pay raise, which is a cost of living pay raise. CMS is 10th or 11th in state funding. The local partners do more for CMS than the State of North Carolina.

Now the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners are saying that education is not their responsibility. Morgan stressed that he is tired of the finger pointing between the county and the state. Morgan emphasized that CMS has no ability to impact the salaries of CMS staff.

Morgan did state that all of these budget issues have done positive things. This has united all of the parents, teachers, board of education and the business community to push for increases in staff salaries. Morgan had never seen people lined up outside of the government center all the way to Davidson Street, as they were during this CMS Board Meeting.

Local parents, teachers and the business community have emailed state and county officials about staff pay raises and this encourages Morgan. Morgan also said that “our voices are being heard”. Morgan wants the local community to keep up the pressure. The local economic engine is stressing that a strong public education system is needed. Morgan stated emphatically that he supports the ask that Dr. Morrison is recommending. He is stressing that the community needs to continue with their advocacy for CMS staff pay raises.

The vote was 8-0 for this new 2014-2015 budget proposal. The crowd errupted in loud applause.

Ann Clark gave a presentation on the changes for the 2014-2015 school calendar. The changes involve adding make-up days.

Ann Clark and Guy Davidson gave a presentation on the New CMS Security Plan. Davidson stressed that the safety of the children and staff are the biggest priority of this new plan. This entire project will cost $19 million.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked how is CMS going to pay for all of this? Morgan reminded all that this entire security plan was put in place to avoid a Sandy Hook Style problem at CMS. Morgan is very appreciative that the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners approved and is paying for this plan.

Morgan joked with Senator elect Joyce Waddell about her new upcoming position in Raleigh. Morgan, Chairperson McCray and CMS Attorney George Battle are working on how to best fill this seat that will be empty. Morgan stated that the CMS board would like to have this seat filled during the December 2014 – January 2015 time frame.

Morgan said that he visited a Junior ROTC awards ceremony recently. Morgan stressed that is was a WOW moment. Hopewell Junior ROTC won the competition. Morgan emphasized that the reason for Junior ROTC is important is because it has a 98.7% graduation rate! Morgan stated that all at the competion were very sharp. Morgan congratuates all in this excelllent program.

Morgan thanked his collegues on the board for their votes for the budget since it is a big ask. Morgan stated that the Assistant General Counsel for CMS Jonathan Sink will be living in Raleigh during the legislative short session. The short session starts tomorrow,  May 14th, 2014.

The next regular CMS Board Meeting will be May 27th, 2014 at 6:00 pm in room 267 of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.

CMS: Proposed 2014-2015 Budget: Early Ideas


The lack of employee raises has been a hot topic for several years. Many are unhappy with teacher pay rates and simply leave North Carolina for surrounding states that all pay better than North Carolina.

The board has asked the county for $26.7 million dollars for state employee raises. This $26.7 million would cover 3% raises for CMS staff. CMS is still unsure if the county will give CMS all  of the $26.7 million. Many decisions can not be made by CMS until the budget is finalized.

The proposed 2014-2015 budget has been presented to the board on April 8th, 2014 by the Superintendent Dr. Morrison. The board is expected to vote on this new budget on May 13th, 2014. The board must present this proposed budget to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners by May 15th. It is still unclear when the final budget information will be available from the state and the county in order for CMS to release the 2014-2015 Budget numbers.

Many line items in the CMS budget are increasing and this is causing a problem in balancing these increases against staff raises. Utilities and the cost of building a new school have both increased. Other items like retirement costs and health care costs have increased and must be considered when making this budget actually work.

The new manager for the county, Dena Diorio, will present her proposed budget to the county on May 29th, 2014. The CMS board is now in talks with the county and the state about the long term impact of this budget.

On May 19th, a joint workshop between the CMS Board and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners will convene to talk about this new budget.  At this workshop, the CMS Board hopes to find out the level of commitment of the board of commissioners on this new budget.

In addition, the CMS Board is not sure of how much the State of North Carolina is committed to this budget. The Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, recently stated that he wants a 2% raise for all state employees. However nice this sounds, this is no guarantee that the State House or State Senate are willing to give this 2% raise.

The students will pay a great cost if the state and the county are not willing to increase teacher salaries. The students are the people who lose the most when great teachers are unwilling to stay to educate the future leaders of North Carolina.



CMS: April 08th, 2014: Board Hears Superintendent’s Proposal for 2014-2015 Budget


The CMS Board of Education met in the chamber of the government center at 6:10 pm on April 8th, 2014. All board members were present. The board voted unanimously to approve the agenda.

Ten public speakers spoke on various subjects. Two talked about ASVAB(Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) testing for high school students. One talked about school bus safety, one talked on the budget, two talked about the need for teacher raises and four talked about the need for LGBT(Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) students to have the right pronoun used while in school.

District 3 Representative Joyce Waddell read the resolution concerning the 2014 teacher of the year, James Ford. CMS is proud of the fact that a CMS Teacher is the 2014 Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Morrison along with eleven other staff, students and members of the public gave the 2014-2015 budget proposal presentation. Peter Huxtable, Marjorie Mundy, April Yakuba, Antenor Adam, Kathleen Dennis, Natalie English, Greg Kilpatrick, Nysha Busby, Shaquania Watson, Anthony Amos and James Ford all gave part of this presentation. James Ford’s speech was a great inspiration to all.

CMS is asking for a $46.2 million dollar increase from the county. This is an increase over the budget ask from last year. Here is the breakdown of the increase: $26.7 million for a 3% one time raise for CMS employees, $8.5 million for sustaining growth, $8.3 million for new initiatives and $1.2 million to help with literacy. Also included in the $46.2 million is pass-through money that goes from the county to the charter schools. CMS does not get any of the $6.7 million in charter pass-through money. CMS does have $4.0 million in reductions and redirections. This is a total ask from the county for CMS for the 2014-2015 Budget: $402.7 million.

District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon stated for the first time ever she will be voting for the new budget on the first try. Lennon stressed that she usually votes for the budget after several changes.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan thanked Ford. Morgan stated that he agrees with Ford that teachers are the one profession that all other professionals depend on. Morgan stressed that CMS and the community have made a commitment and an investment. Morgan emphasized that he is fully on-board with the new budget and feels that CMS is moving in the right direction.

District 6 Representative Paul Bailey stated that he can not guarantee he likes this new budget. Bailey said this because he has not had a chance to read some of the recent changes.  Bailey stressed that he does support teachers and systems. Bailey also stated that he loves education but wishes he could change the tax rate.

Here are some key budget dates: May 13th, 2014 – the board votes on the new budget, June 11th, 2014 – the county has a public hearing on the budget and June 17th, 2014 – the county adopts an Operational Budget for CMS.

The next CMS Board Meeting will be April 22rd, 2014 at 6:00 pm in room 267 of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.


CMS Board Meeting: March 25th, 2014: Legislative Agenda

The CMS Board of Education met at 6:07 pm on March 25th, 2014 in room 267 of the Charlotte Government Center. All nine board members were present.

The board unanimously approved the meeting agenda. District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon pulled A1 from the consent agenda. Lennon has received many calls and emails concerning the school boundaries at the new Highland Creek Elementary. Scott McCully and Guy Chamberlain explained that the committee is about 2/3rds of the way through the boundary process. Highland Creek is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2014. McCully explained that CMS will be hosting a series of community meetings on this very subject. Item A1 and the entire consent agenda was unanimously voted for by the board.

Terri Cockerham gave the presentation on the 25% Rule(Senate Bill 402).  Approximately 6,000 support staff  in CMS are eligible for this 25%  Rule.  In the event that the CMS board is not granted a one-year waiver, a committee has been working on how CMS will enact this law.  The committee is considering a point system based on five areas.  These five areas are: 1. Evaluation:  How did the staff member do on their yearly evaluation?    2. Hard To Fill Areas:  Does the staff member fill a hard to fill area?  3. Multiple Certifications: Does the staff member hold multiple certifications?   4. National Board Certification:  Does the staff member have national board certification?  5. Years of Service:  How many years of service does the staff member hold? In the end, the committee is recommending items one thru four but not five to the board. The minimum time with CMS is three years. Each qualifying CMS staff member will get points based on how well they match in all four areas.

All nine members voted to approve this way to enact the 25% Rule. The list of teachers who are offered this rule will need to be given to the board by  at least May 27th, 2014. The deadline for staff signing their new contracts is May 30th, 2014. These deadlines give very little time to come up with criteria after the General Assembly starts meeting. This is the reason this criteria needed to be approved at this time. The final outcome  of the 25% Rule will not be known until the North Carolina General Assembly meets for the short session in May of 2014.

Vice-chairman Tim Morgan thanked Terri Cockerham and the committee for their professional work on a difficult bill.  Morgan is certain there is a better way to attract and keep great teachers. He is glad that CMS has decided not to pursue a lawsuit. Morgan hopes that the general assembly will decide to grant CMS a one-year delay for this bill. He stressed that CMS can come up with a better plan. Morgan is hopeful that the general assembly will give CMS the authority to change the way CMS attracts and keeps great teachers.

Morgan asked Cockerham if the list of staff who are being offered the 25% would need to be made public. Cockerham quickly said that yes, that list would have to be made public. Morgan asked George Battle about making this more transparent. Battle explained that CMS would be bound to follow all personnel laws.

Jonathan Sink gave the presentation on the 2014 CMS Legislative Agenda. This is a short session and the agenda is also just four items short. Vice-Chairman thanked all of his fellow board members for their frank dialog at the March Intergovernmental Relationships Committee(IRC) Meeting.

Here are the four legislative items from CMS:  1. Increase Teacher Pay:  CMS would like the state to increase teacher pay to meet the national average by 2016.   2.  Help Fund Early College:  CMS needs $322,000 for  several early college programs. This will help at least 1,700 CMS students. This is a cost of only $500 per student.            3.  One-Year Delay For 25% Rule: This will save the state’s money. CMS would like a one-year delay to come up with a better solution to attract and keep great teachers.   4.  Increase Number Of Testing Days:  CMS would like to increase the end of year testing days. Currently CMS has ten days and would like to have five additional days. This would be a total of 15 testing days at the end of the year.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan stated that none of these four items should be a surprise. Dr. Morrison will have these same four items in his budget. The last two items on the legislative agenda come at no cost. The board voted 9-0 to approve the 2014 legislative agenda.

Denise Watts gave an update on Project LIFT. LIFT has seen some increases in test scores at certain LIFT schools but not all.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan stated that every time he saw Time-Warner News Channel recently he saw Denise Watts. Morgan is impressed at what a great salesperson Watts is for Project LIFT.

Morgan asked Watts if students graduate in the summer if these student count in the cohort number. Watts explained that no in North Carolina this does not count towards the cohort graduation rate. He also asked if other states count this in their cohort numbers. Watts stated that yes, other states do use the summer graduation numbers in their cohort rates. The Department of Public Instruction(DPI) is the reason the cohort rate is figured differently in North Carolina. Morgan offered help with persuading the general assembly to change the way the cohort graduation rate is figured.

Morgan also talked about the out of school suspension (OSS) rate. Morgan stated he is happy with the decrease to 26% of the OSS rate. Morgan would also like to see the OSS rate decrease even more in the LIFT program. Watts explained that as each child feels more a part of their class that this should decrease this rate. Morgan would like to see more children in school rather than in OSS.

LaTarzja Henry and Earnest Winston gave the Community Partnerships Presentation.  The Community Partnerships Team helps all 160 schools find private companies and faith based partners. This partnership team is a new area in CMS.  This was team was created after Dr. Morrison joined CMS. Currently the Community Partnerships Team has great data on 72 out of the 160 CMS Schools. At the end of April, the partnership is holding a faith-based community forum.

Morgan is encouraging the partnerships team to think outside the box. Morgan recently spoken with his senior pastor and his church is ready to partner with CMS Schools. Morgan stressed that suburban churches are willing to help CMS Schools, even if the school and church are not in close geographical proximity.

Morgan asked how does the partnership track when a company is interested in helping a high school like Butler, since Butler is not one of the ten on the partnership list.  He asked how do we(CMS) make sure that we are not missing this opportunity? Henry explained that the partnership would make sure that the company could help Butler in all of the areas of need but still would not have great data on this partnership since Butler is not one of the ten.

Morgan asked if any church can attend the faith-based forum at the end of April. Henry explained that yes, any and all churches are encouraged to attend.

The next CMS Board Meeting will be on April 8th, 2014 at 6:00 pm in the chamber of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.