CHARLOTTE – Superintendent Clayton Wilcox has proposed a $1.6 billion budget for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools next year that will require an additional $39.8 million from the county.
Wilcox described his proposed budget not as a request, but as a call to action.
“Many people think a budget is just a spreadsheet, but I would argue that a budget is a statement about our values and priorities as a community and as an organization,” Wilcox said.
Here are examples of how the budget would grow in four areas:
• Safe schools – Fund an additional 33 elementary school counselors, 17 social workers, 10 psychologists, five police officers, two locksmiths and two electronics specialists. Another $9.2 million is earmarked for technology and school enhancements, including fencing and surveillance.
• Great educators – $11 million for salary increases, $6.9 million for county supplement pay increases, 20 more English learner teachers and staffing increases for enhancement teachers, cultural proficiency and new schools.
• Strong support – An online literacy platform for grades 4 to 12; program for 31 schools to improve student outcomes; and software and cloud-based guidance counseling platform for middle and high schools.
• Positive Learning Space – 46 additional custodians across district, as well as 11 custodians and three pest control specialists for new schools and added space.
CMS gets 60 percent of its funding from the state, 30 percent from the county and the rest from federal and other grant sources, according to Finance Director Sheila Shirley.
The board will bold a public hearing on Wilcox’s proposed budget on April 24. Members are tentatively scheduled to approve a budget May 8 and present a formal request it to county commissioners May 15.
As CMS begins discussing the budget with county commissioners, Wilcox said they’ll explain how the district didn’t just add on to last year’s budget but made several redirections.
Sean Strain, who represents the Matthews and Mint Hill area, said he looks forward to future workshops, because he wanted to get more information about the superintendent’s proposed base budget.
Rhonda Cheek, a self-proclaimed penny pincher and fiscal conservative on the school board, supported the budget, because it addresses problems that CMS identified in its Breaking the Link report.
At-large board member Elyse Dashew said the budget request contained no fluff.
“This is a strategic budget that will make a big difference for our children and our educators,” Dashew said.