Battle Brewing Over CMS Budget

CMS superintendent Ann Clark asks for a $23 million increase over last year. The county says the school district will have to make do with less than that.

CHARLOTTE, NC —  A budget battle is brewing, as CMS superintendent Ann Clark asks for a $23 million increase over last year.

The county says the school district will have to make do with less than that. Both sides feel the budget process is broken.

“There’s really only one item on this list that doesn’t have to happen,” says Clark.

The CMS superintendent took her case to the people today, breaking down the nearly $23 million increase.
Clark says the list includes statutory requirements for teacher pay, health care costs, more students, school resource officers, transportation and money that the district has to pass on to charter schools.

“There are no new programs and initiatives,” says Clark. “That we are not coming to the county with anything other than those things that are critically important.”

Mecklenburg County is anticipating a revenue surplus of about $24 million this year, but the CMS ask would take almost every cent.

Current county commissioner, and former school board member, Jim Puckett says it’s the same story every year.

“I would suggest that they should go and build a budget anticipating about ten to eleven million dollars more,” says Puckett. “I understand they’re coming in asking for about 23 million. Roughly twice what we’re probably going to offer.”

Puckett has proposed having the county give CMS a funding amount before the budgeting process, rather than CMS asking and having to wait until June when the county budget is adopted.

CMS currently gets more than 40% of the county’s annual tax revenues.

“I certainly understand the realities of the growth in the county budget revenue,” says Clark. “That is a reality. But I have to at least put in front of the county commissioners what our need is.”

“It’s not her job to ask,” says Puckett. “It’s her job to take what we believe are reasonable expenditures and invest them wisely.”

The total CMS budget is more than $1.4 billion.

The district may have to wait until July to learn what their state funding will be.

The 2016-17 school year starts August 25th.