STATEMENT ON FUNDING FOR CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG SCHOOLS
The Board of County Commissioners is considering a proposal to put $54 million in non-instructional funds on hold until CMS provides a plan for closing acute racial disparities in academic outcomes. This pause on funding is in the context of an overall allocation of $549 million to CMS from the County.
There are strong community reactions to this, both pro and con. As your At-Large County Commissioner, I want to update you on my thinking and hear from you.
I am an enthusiastic supporter of CMS. I have three boys in CMS, and we have had an outstanding experience over the last 12 years. I have high regard for the School Board, unending respect for teachers and staff, and an appreciation for how challenging the pandemic has been for student learning.
However, I have been deeply affected by the pleas of so many parents who are desperate because their children are not receiving an equitable education. I cannot turn a deaf ear to these parents and community leaders who speak for thousands of affected families and tell them they aren’t even entitled to receive a plan. CMS disparities routinely show achievement gaps of 30-40% between white students and students of color, and outcomes are even worse since the onset of COVID. As one example, a newly-released metric reveals that 78% of Black students lack proficiency in Math I.
I am troubled by mischaracterizations that the County is taking money away from CMS or the County is dictating to CMS how to teach children. It is doing neither. CMS need only provide a plan of its own creation to release the hold on these funds.
Context for the $56 million hold is also important. This year CMS will be getting $320 million in federal dollars on top of its $2 billion budget. Indeed, CMS is receiving $100 million more than the County will be receiving from the federal government in COVID relief. Regarding claims that the County is not pulling its weight with CMS, even though next year's student enrollment is projected to be less than it was in 2018, the County is currently funding CMS by $92 million more than it did in 2018.
Given all of this, asking CMS for a current plan that creates metrics, goals, and timelines to address academic disparities is a necessary and reasonable request. I will continue to listen to all sides as this discussion evolves and, as always, I would love to hear from you.