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.