Local

CMS to cut 331 jobs, try to avoid layoffs

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will eliminate 331 jobs, including 66 elementary school teachers and more than 100 people who work in school libraries, Superintendent Peter Gorman announced Wednesday.

The cuts won't necessarily mean layoffs. CMS has a work force topping 19,700 people, and Gorman said he hopes anyone whose job is eliminated can move into a new one.

The biggest wallop will be felt in schools, where 210 jobs are being cut using new CMS formulas assigning teachers, assistant principals, library staff, counselors, psychologists and social workers based on enrollment and poverty levels. Some students in low-poverty elementary schools will see bigger classes in August, and many schools will lose people who help run the media centers.

“These are cuts that will have a real impact on children,” Gorman said.

The remaining jobs are either vacant – CMS froze some hiring this spring anticipating cuts – or existed on paper only. Those include 42 vacant maintenance jobs, about a dozen vacant jobs in central offices and nine jobs Gorman had hoped to add in regional “learning community” offices.

The new plan trims $24million from the $1.2 billion budget plan the school board approved in April, to bring 2008-09 spending in line with the money CMS will get from the state and Mecklenburg County. The spring plan is used to make a pitch for county money. The school board approves a final budget in the fall, after state, county and federal officials tells CMS how much to expect.

Gorman said his budget is likely to keep changing, but he wanted to tell staff and the public what to expect. He said he tried to avoid cutting school staff, but that's where most of the money goes.

Board member Kaye McGarry, who attended Gorman's news conference, said afterward he should have cut more from administration. “To me, we have to be stronger in saying ‘Protect the classroom,'” she said.

The budget is a mix of state, county and federal money. CMS is waiting on variables ranging from federal grants to fall enrollment. If there's money to restore anything, Gorman said, he'll hire the additional 66 teachers to bring down class sizes in grades K-3.

Under Wednesday's plan, high-poverty schools will continue to get one K-3 teacher per 16 students; the ratio for other schools will rise from one per 21 to one per 22.

Board member Trent Merchant, who has a first-grader in a school that could lose teachers, called Gorman's formulas “a responsible method.”

The legislature, which provides about 60 percent of CMS's money, just approved a 2008-09 budget that provides 3percent raises for teachers, instead of the 5 percent CMS had projected in its April plan. It also provides $3.23 a gallon to fill school bus tanks, while CMS is paying $4.19 a gallon, Deputy Superintendent Maurice Green said.

School board member Vilma Leake said she'd like to see CMS and the county provide money to keep teacher raises at 5 percent. Leake, a retired teacher who's running for county commissioner, said she's trying to organize 10,000 educators to go to Raleigh and confront legislators.

Among the jobs Gorman will trim are some from the April plan that were never filled. For instance, CMS had planned to hire nine people to create a second Performance Learning Center, a small high school for students who don't do well in traditional settings. Officials pulled the plug a couple of weeks ago.

Gorman said he doesn't expect to lay off teachers because summer is the heaviest time for turnover, leaving openings for any who have to switch schools.

Media-center assistants, the largest group losing jobs, will be offered positions as teacher assistants, he said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will eliminate 331 jobs, including 66 elementary school teachers and more than 100 people who work in school libraries, Superintendent Peter Gorman announced Wednesday.

The cuts won't necessarily mean layoffs. CMS has a work force topping 19,700 people, and Gorman said he hopes anyone whose job is eliminated can move into a new one.

The biggest wallop will be felt in schools, where 210 jobs are being cut using new CMS formulas assigning teachers, assistant principals, library staff, counselors, psychologists and social workers based on enrollment and poverty levels. Some students in low-poverty elementary schools will see bigger classes in August, and many schools will lose people who help run the media centers.

“These are cuts that will have a real impact on children,” Gorman said.

The remaining jobs are either vacant – CMS froze some hiring this spring anticipating cuts – or existed on paper only. Those include 42 vacant maintenance jobs, about a dozen vacant jobs in central offices and nine jobs Gorman had hoped to add in regional “learning community” offices.

The new plan trims $24million from the $1.2 billion budget plan the school board approved in April, to bring 2008-09 spending in line with the money CMS will get from the state and Mecklenburg County. The spring plan is used to make a pitch for county money. The school board approves a final budget in the fall, after state, county and federal officials tells CMS how much to expect.

Gorman said his budget is likely to keep changing, but he wanted to tell staff and the public what to expect. He said he tried to avoid cutting school staff, but that's where most of the money goes.

Board member Kaye McGarry, who attended Gorman's news conference, said afterward he should have cut more from administration. “To me, we have to be stronger in saying ‘Protect the classroom,'” she said.

The budget is a mix of state, county and federal money. CMS is waiting on variables ranging from federal grants to fall enrollment. If there's money to restore anything, Gorman said, he'll hire the additional 66 teachers to bring down class sizes in grades K-3.

Under Wednesday's plan, high-poverty schools will continue to get one K-3 teacher per 16 students; the ratio for other schools will rise from one per 21 to one per 22.

Board member Trent Merchant, who has a first-grader in a school that could lose teachers, called Gorman's formulas “a responsible method.”

The legislature, which provides about 60 percent of CMS's money, just approved a 2008-09 budget that provides 3percent raises for teachers, instead of the 5 percent CMS had projected in its April plan. It also provides $3.23 a gallon to fill school bus tanks, while CMS is paying $4.19 a gallon, Deputy Superintendent Maurice Green said.

School board member Vilma Leake said she'd like to see CMS and the county provide money to keep teacher raises at 5 percent. Leake, a retired teacher who's running for county commissioner, said she's trying to organize 10,000 educators to go to Raleigh and confront legislators.

Among the jobs Gorman will trim are some from the April plan that were never filled. For instance, CMS had planned to hire nine people to create a second Performance Learning Center, a small high school for students who don't do well in traditional settings. Officials pulled the plug a couple of weeks ago.

Gorman said he doesn't expect to lay off teachers because summer is the heaviest time for turnover, leaving openings for any who have to switch schools.

Media-center assistants, the largest group losing jobs, will be offered positions as teacher assistants, he said.

  Comments