School board chairman: county must spare schools

CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board intends to request an extra $55 million in funding from Mecklenburg County, which would save hundreds of teaching positions and keep hundreds of students enrolled in preschool programs.

At the board’s meeting April 26, Chairman Eric Davis spoke to the need to protect the final five items listed on Superintendent Peter Gorman’s list of potential budget cuts, which include:

• Many of the district’s 80 Bright Beginnings pre-kindergarten classes.

• 486 teacher positions.

• 400 teacher assistants and 164 support positions (one at each school).

• Extra staff for schools with a high percentage of needy students. School officials refer to this as “weighted students staffing” and determine that support based on the percentage of student receiving free or discounted lunches.

• Preserving current class sizes in fourth through 12th grades.

“We stretched our system to full capacity. We can go no further without harm,” Davis told the board. Gorman’s proposed budget only asks the county for an extra $10 million, due to enrollment and cost increases. That budget is based upon an assumed $100 million funding cut from local, state and federal sources and trims about 1,500 jobs, including 600 teacher positions.

Davis said his plan would dramatically reduce the cuts needed. The board plans to decide how much to ask from the county by May 10.

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