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.