The Intergovernmental Relationships Committee of CMS met in the government center at 9:00 am on February 7th, 2013. Chairperson Mary McCray and Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan are co-chairs of this committee and were both in attendance. Also in attendance were: District 5 Representative Eric Davis, District 2 Representative Richard McElrath, At-Large Representative Ericka Ellis-Stewart, District 1 Representative Rhonda Lennon, CMS General Counsel George Battle, CMS Associate General Counsel Jonathan Sink and CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison. District 3 Representative Joyce Waddell was not present.
Recently, Mecklenburg County held it’s breakfast meeting and this committee was able to present the CMS Legislative Agenda at that time. The committee members were able to speak to Representative Charles Jeter about Charter Schools.
Chairperson Mary McCray and Vice-Chairman Tim Morgan were in Raleigh to speak to members of the North Carolina General Assembly on January 30th. The plan is for McCray and Morgan to go to Raleigh on February 20th and once again speak to members of the general assembly. On February 20th, McCray and Morgan are scheduled to talk to North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis. While in Raleigh in January, the following members spoke to McCray and Morgan: Senator Bob Rucho, Representative Rob Bryan, Representative Kelly Alexander, Representative Bill Brawley, Senator Jeff Tarte, Representative Becky Carney, Representative Charles Jeter and Representative Rodney Moore.
Senator Rucho received McCray and Morgan well. They were able to talk one-on-one. Senator Rucho likes the Forsyth County route of charter schools. Forsyth would be the first district in the state to be 100% charter schools if the local legislation passes. Representative Bryan used to live in Los Angeles, talked about his five children and Collinswood Language Academy. Representative Alexander had a great meeting with McCray and Morgan. Representative Alexander understands the need for technology in the classrooms and asked why technology bonds have not been issued. Senator Tarte has two sons who graduated from North Mecklenburg High School’s I.B. Program. Senator Tarte does not like the idea of CMS seeking taxing authority. Senator Tarte has been to all of the UNC Campus’ and is knowledgeable about the inequalities and positives of each campus. Representative Carney likes the idea of CMS seeking taxing authority. Representative Jeter spoke about Project LIFT since this impacts the area he represents. McCray and Morgan encouraged Representative Jeter to talk with Representative Alexander. Chairperson McCray was not able to speak to Representative Tricia Cotham or Senator Malcolm Graham. McCray will speak to Senator Graham later.
On February 20th, this committee will speak to Speaker Tillis, Sara Riggins(Constituent Liaison of the President Pro Tempore’s office), Senator Peter Brunstetter, Representative Jacqueline Schaffer, Representative Craig Horn and Representative Nelson Dollar.
District 5 Representative Eric Davis was able to speak to Representative Ruth Samuelson. Representative Samuelson feels that the structural problems need to be fixed first. District 2 Representative Richard McElrath has not spoken to Representative Rodney Moore. At-Large Representative Ericka Ellis-Stewart and District 6 Representative Amelia Stinson-Wesley were in Washington DC and spoke to the staff from offices of: Congressman Richard Hudson, Congressman Robert Pittenger, Congressman Richard Burr and Congresswoman Kay Hagan.
Chairperson Mary McCray was able to speak to Representative Beverly Earle. McCray spoke about the lack of broadband competition along the Beatty’s Ford/West Corridor of Charlotte. McCray would like to see everyone have equal access of broadband. The schools in this west corridor have broadband but many individual homes do not. Representative Earle worked for AT&T(BellSouth) and would be a good person to speak to about this lack of competition.
Morgan would like an apples to apples comparison with charter schools. For example, Sugar Creek Charter is not a good comparison because there are no comparisons of student bodies and end of grade(EOG) testing. McCray would like to know how Title I Funds are being used by Sugar Creek. Many students who were at Reedy Creek now are attending Sugar Creek. Morgan also explained to several in Raleigh that many issues are related to the calendar issue and the general assembly will see this calendar issue many times. Representative Brawley talked about putting public education first on the budget calendar.
At-Large Ericka Ellis-Stewart talked about sequestration. The United States Congress will impose large cuts on LEA’s(sequestration) if a more permanent budget deal is not soon reached. This would cut 5.1% from the CMS federal budget. In real terms, this is 128 positions. For example, Metro school would see big cuts if this happens. Ellis-Stewart has already had conversations about sequestration with the staff members of the following in Washington DC: Congressman Mel Watt, Congressman Hudson, Congressman Pittenger, Congressman Burr and Congresswoman Hagan.
Morgan asked if the sequestration can be an action item on the February 12th meeting agenda. Attorney George Battle will draft this action item immediately.
In Wake County, the county is considering taking away ownership and oversight of school buildings away from the Wake County School Board and giving it to Wake County Commissioners. Morgan stated that in Mecklenburg County there appears to be only one county commissioner on board with this idea. This committee is keeping an eye on what is done in Wake County.
The Intergovernmental Relationships Committee meets again March 7th at 9:00 am in the government center. The government center is located at 600 East Third Street, Charlotte, North Carolina.