CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District leaders have approved their proposed budget for the upcoming school year. Key new efforts approved for funding primarily relate to staffing.
Another topic that parents think should be higher on the priority list is safety and security.
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“I think they could have asked for a lot more and they should have asked for a lot more,” said Parent Stephanie Bertorelli. “And the county and state should have given it to them.”
The CMS Board’s $2.1 billion budget plan includes asking county commissioners for a $40 million increase in local education spending.
“The public school system needs more money, it always has and it always will,” Bertorelli said. “And that’s not something we should skimp on.”
The additional $40 million request in the budget includes more money for charter schools, the opening of two new schools and teacher salary increases.
“Which is incredibly well deserved, and they need all of that,” Bertorelli said.
“While it’s so good to see that the budget includes salary and compensation increases for teachers, it’s only one big part of job satisfaction,” said parent Stacy Staggs. “People need to feel safe, people need to feel valued, people need to feel heard.”
While parents are strongly in favor of teacher salary increases, they still feel the budget is insufficient overall.
“Where is the recognition that our ratios for support professionals are way off?” Staggs asked. “There is not enough emphasis on the well-being of students.
“Across the budget, security is mentioned maybe nine times in a 118-page document,” Bertorelli added. “So it doesn’t really seem to be as high a priority as they make it.”
“I think CMS is under that budget,” Staggs added. “In terms of finding ways to improve student outcomes.”
Parents believe that more funds should be devoted to the general welfare of students.
“We’ve always been told that budgets are priorities,” Staggs said. “And the fact that such a small percentage is focused on student welfare tells us that’s not the priority.”
Mecklenburg county commissioners have yet to give final approval to the budget.
Another thing that has raised eyebrows for parents is the Acting Superintendent’s comments about increasing test scores being his primary focus.
“He referenced increasing low CMS test scores as his number one priority,” Staggs said. “And not that this priority per se is bad, but I wonder how well he masters the landscape of inequities we face in CMS. it will end up being more or less the same.
“Compensating for learning loss due to the pandemic is an extremely important aspect of this school board,” Bertorelli said. “But should it be in the form of standardized test results? Nope.”