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.


CMS: Board Retreat: 022114: Theory of Action


The CMS Board of Education held it’s retreat at the leadership academy on February 21st, 2014. The bi-annual retreat started at 8:30 am. Educational Management Consultant Dan Katzin led the morning discussion on the Theory of Action.

The seven board member present were:  District 6 Representative Paul Bailey, Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan, Chairperson Mary McCray, District 4 Representative Tom Tate , At-Large Representative Ericka Ellis-Stewart, District 2 Representative Thelma Byers-Bailey and District 3 Representative Joyce Waddell. The two board members absent were:  District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon and District 5 Representative Eric Davis.

Dan Katzin first talked about the definition of the Theory of Action. It should be a framework to improve organizational performance. It also should be a coherent set of guiding principals. Katzin asked why should the board spend time on the Theory of Action. Some of the reasons given were: It gives goals to work towards, it is a set of boundaries for employees, the community sees long term goals, it gives buy-in for the community and it is something to measure.

Katzin spoke about the Theory of Action of Southwest Airlines. Southwest has a theory built to maximize profit. This is done by changing some roles. The stewards/stewardesses clean the plane in addition to their other duties. Southwest only flies one type of plane. This leaves less training time on different planes. Southwest only flies point-to-point and does not use hubs.  Southwest has less turnover in staff and the metrics of this airline is a huge deal. The big difference is that Southwest was the only profitable airlines in America until two years ago.

Katzin also talked about a Theory of Action versus a Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is the specifics of the Theory of Action. The Strategic Plan gives milestones, metrics, tactics and ways that resources are allocated.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked how often should The Theory of Action be revised? District 4 Representative Tom Tate talked about revising the Theory of Action in 2005. Tate explained that there was a need to move toward empowerment and away from micro-management. Tate additionally talked about a need to use more understandable terms when talking to parents.

Katzin talked about the major types of Theory of Action. Here are the six types: One Best System, Managed Instruction, Performance Empowerment, Managed Performance Empowerment, Portfolio of Schools and Charter System.

The One Best System is very much the old way and is cookie cutter in style. Very few schools in the USA still use this. Managed Instruction(MI) is the new way and is based out of a use of a centralized office style. Only a few school systems in America use Performance Empowerment, one example is New York City. Managed Performance Empowerment gives much less freedom than Performance Empowerment.

The basic style of CMS is Managed Instruction. The goals of this style are coherence and consistency. Another goal is equity of input. All operations are centralized and do not favor one person.

District 6 Representative Paul Bailey talked about the differences between equity of input versus equity of results. Bailey stressed that the level of expectation is very different with these two models.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan stated that the Charlotte community and CMS are very different than they were when he started on the board four years ago.

Betty Burney from The Center for Reform of School Systems(CRSS) led the afternoon discussion on The Theory of Action, The Strategic Plan and Board Self-Evaluation.

Betty Burney explained that the Theory of Action is the foundation for the Strategic Plan and for a Board Self-Evaluation. She believes the Theory of Action should be altered every three years at a minimum. One of the foundations for the Theory of Action should be the belief that all students can learn.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan stated that it is the Theory of Action for change. Morgan stressed that the Theory of Action should be continually moving, should be flexible and open to make modifications.

Burney stressed that the goals should include aligning the student’s interests with the school that lines up with those same interests. Parents should be sold on goals, choice and quality at each school.

Burney explained that in different models the school system has differing theories on how freedom works. In one model the school gets the freedom, while in another model the principal is given the freedom.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan stated that the principal is the key to the school leadership team. Dr. Morrison stated that when schools are rated as blue, those same schools get more autonomy under certain models. For example, if that principal leaves then the school will still have the same autonomy.

Burney stressed how important it is for school boards to do self-evaluations.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked CMS Attorney George Battle if board self-evaluations are a public matter. Battle explained that yes, if the board decides to do a self-evaluation this would have to be a public matter.

The next regular CMS school board meeting will be March 25th, 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.


iGov Committee Meeting 020614: Teacher Compensation

The Intergovernmental Relationships Committee of CMS met at 9:08 am on February 6th, 2014 on the 5th floor of the government center.

Committee members present were: Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan, District 6 Representative Paul Bailey, District 2 Representative Thelma Byers-Bailey, District 5 Representative Eric Davis, District 3 Representative Joyce Waddell, Chairperson Mary McCray and by phone, District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon and At-Large Member Ericka Ellis-Stewart. The lone staff member present was Associate General Counsel Jonathan Sink.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan led the discussion. In Raleigh on February 3rd, 2014, Rebecca Troutman(NCACC Intergovernmental Relations Director for Mecklenburg County) gave a presentation to the North Carolina General Assembly. A copy of this presentation, ‘North Carolina County Funding of Schools’, was given to all present at this committee meeting. North Carolina State House Member Bill Brawley gave the presentation to Morgan for use in this committee.

Associate General Counsel Jonathan Sink talked about slide 2 of this presentation. How does NC Compare Nationally? How does NC rank? The national average for county support of teacher’s salaries is 44.1% (K-12). Local support of education is 25.7%. North Carolina is ranked 45th nationally. The national average of local support of education is 43.4%. Sink stressed that if you look only at K-12, local support is 58.2%.

Morgan stated that Representative Brawley stressed the chart on slide 23. This chart is a County per pupil expenditures for 2012. By phone, District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon pointed out that Leandro bases these figures on percentages not numbers. Lennon went on to explain that CMS is #1 if you look at the total number of poor students not the percentage. Wake County also is at the bottom of the state in per pupil expenditure like CMS. The way the state funds education, the end result is hyper-funding of poor students in the eastern part of North Carolina.

Morgan pointed out that it would be nice if this committee got the same information as the state and the county commissioners. Morgan stressed that the state and the county point to each other and blame each other when education funding is not handled properly. This leaves CMS in the middle without funding authority.

Morgan would like to take this message to the county commissioners either in a one on one meeting or one on two. Morgan’s idea is to take county commissioners to visit a CMS school and talk about the new budget during the school visit. Morgan would also like to meet with the Mecklenburg Delegation before the May 2014 short session but no date for this meeting has been set.

District 1 Representative Lennon agreed with Morgan that CMS needs one on one meetings with the county. Lennon does not like the idea of a big meeting between the county and CMS.

District 6 Representative Paul Bailey stressed that CMS needs a consolidated message. Bailey would like all CMS board members will convey a single message to the county.

Morgan explained that during the second regular CMS board meeting in March, the board will vote on the legislative agenda.

Sink stated that CMS will be meeting with the Charlotte Chamber on March 20th at 4:30 pm to present the legislative agenda from this committee.

Morgan asked the committee if it would be better for CMS to have it’s own meetings or one on one meetings? By phone, At-Large Representative Ericka Ellis-Stewart emphatically stated that both would be best.

Sink explained that the proposed new teacher base pay might be $33,000 per year this year and next year this base pay might increase to $34,000. The goal is to have North Carolina teacher base pay top out at $35,000 by the year 2016.

Morgan expressed regret that this proposed teacher salary increase might only affect 10% of the teaching core in CMS. Morgan asked if a $6,000 increase in teacher base pay will really work to attract and keep great teachers. Morgan stressed that North Carolina still has a gap between the base teacher pay here and other states like Virginia and South Carolina. Morgan would like to make North Carolina more competitive in the education market.

Morgan also expressed regret with the varied plans for raising teacher base pay from different parts of Raleigh. The governor has one plan, the speaker has another plan, the speaker pro-tem has still another plan and the state plan is different from all the above. Morgan would like to know which plan will be ‘THE’ plan and would like to know this sooner rather than later.

Sink explained another new idea for the 25% plan, This idea is to require the principal from each school make a list of teachers that are irreplaceable. Sink expressed concerns over the legal nature of this idea. Sink is concerned that principals will play favorites when it comes to teachers. Sink’s idea is to give a set of baseline standards to each principal and ask each principal to rank teachers based on these baseline standards.

Morgan stressed that the teachers should know what the details of these baseline standards ahead of the principal making the irreplaceable list. Morgan wants transparency in the process.

Morgan emphasized that realistically, 85% of the teachers will be offered a one or two year contract and only 15% of the teachers will be offered a four year contract. Morgan would prefer that 75% of the teachers get a four year contract and 25% will get a one or two year contract. Morgan wants more professional development for those offered a one or two year contract. Morgan stated that it “scares the hell out of me” that 85% of the CMS teachers will only be offered a one or two year contract. Morgan is concerned about how HR will handle hiring more teachers when the 85% leave CMS. Morgan stated that this idea leaves CMS vulnerable. CMS will loose good teachers but Morgan would like to keep higher performing teachers.  Morgan would like to fight for changes in this law in Raleigh.

Morgan listed some action items from this meeting. One is to suggest that 75% of the teachers should be offered a four year contract at 25% be offered a one or two year contract. This is the flip or reverse of what has been proposed by the state.

Morgan also briefly discussed two other articles. One of the articles talks about the new charter schools in North Carolina. Wake county is looking to cap the number of charter schools. The other article talks about how Guilford County is breaking the tenure law.

The next iGov Committee Meeting will be at 9:00 am on March 6th, 2014 on the 5th floor of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.

CMS: Board Meeting: Read To Achieve Update: 021114

The CMS Board of Education met at 11:35 am in room 267 of the government center on February 11th, 2014. All board members were present for the first part of the meeting.

The agenda was adopted unanimously. There were two public speakers. One talked about not getting his daughter into advanced placement and the other was promoting a new program called Upward Youth Academy.

All but four of the consent items were initially unanimous. District 2 Representative Thelma Byers- Bailey asked to pull all four of the consent items under item E. Byers-Bailey is excited about the 6% MWSBE(Minority/Women Small Business Enterprise)participation. After this short talk from Byers-Bailey, all of the items under E passed by a vote of 9-0.

CMS Chief Accountability Officer Frank Barnes gave the Read To Achieve Update Presentation. CMS has been seeking more flexibility in all of the new tests that are part of this new law. The average passing score for these test is 442. 22% (2,536) of the students in CMS are obtaining this passing score.

The State of North Carolina is now allowing CMS a little more flexibility. CMS is now allowed to use some current CMS tests as alternative testing for this law. These three tests are: 1. MAPS(Measure of Academic Progress from the Northwest Evaluation Association), 2. DEA(Discovery Education’s Ed Assessments) and 3. TRC(3D Text Reading Comprehension from Amplify/North Carolina Reading). CMS already has some of the data on these tests and this should help streamline this process a little more.

District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon asked about the 36 new Read To Achieve Tests and a timeline on taking the tests. Barnes explained that CMS students can now use MAPS, DEA and TRC as alternate tests for this new law. Dr. Morrison further explained that there are five ways to ‘cross the finish line’: 1.Beginning of Grade Test,  2. End of Grade Test, 3. Portfolio Tests, 4. Alternate Assessment Tests( MAP, etc.) and 5. Summer Reading Boot Camp.

CMS requested alternate times/days for Summer Boot Camp. The state wants three hours per day for six weeks and CMS would like six hours per day for three weeks. CMS does not yet know if the state will allow this change.

Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan asked Dr. Morrison about how CMS will notify parents when their children have passed this assessment. Morgan stressed the need to better inform all parents. Morrison explained that any of the children who did pass the BOG have not been notified but will be. Morrison stated that CMS is receiving contradictory information from the State Department of Public Instruction(DPI) on this law. Morrison stressed that most parents want their children to be successful. Morrison reiterated that most parents would rather have their children pass this(or any other) test earlier rather than later. The CMS Board did unanimously pass this change to the Read To Achieve Law.

The Human Resources Presentation was presented by CMS HR Department Head Terri Cockerham. As a part of his entry plan, Dr. Morrison did an audit of HR. Some of these changes are a result of this audit. Two other driving factors are the new 25% law and the elimination of the master’s pay law. Another driving force for these changes is the need to attract and retain better quality teachers.

HR(Human Resources) now has new and varied departments to handle of the hiring of new teachers. The HR budget has not changed much since the 2010-2011 school year. In 2010-2011, HR had a budget of $8,717,309. The proposed budget for 2013-2014 is $8,572,647. HR, like many other parts of CMS, has to do a great deal more with less money.

Terri Cockerham and Associate General Counsel Jonathan Sink gave the presentation on the 25% Rule Survey.

Sink explained a little about the opt in/opt out idea. This could be done by electronic communication and sent to all employees’ who are eligible for the 25%. This is still in discussion within CMS.

Dr. Morrison also explained that there are many nuances to this law. For example, a teacher with six years experience at CMS might not see any increase in his or her salary, either from the 25% law or the governor’s proposed new salary increase.

District 5 Representative Eric Davis ended the day by stressing his objection to the way this law is being enacted. Davis stated that the 25% law is not a complete alternative and does nothing to attract or keep talented teachers.

District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon and District 6 Representative Paul Bailey did not attend the entire meeting.

The next regular board meeting will be on February 25th, 2014 in room 267 of the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Fourth Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.