Education

CMS budget would expand summer reading program

Ann Clark, superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, shown in January, has proposed a $1.37 billion operating budget is about 4 percent larger than last year’s.
Ann Clark, superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, shown in January, has proposed a $1.37 billion operating budget is about 4 percent larger than last year’s. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools hopes to expand summer reading camps to more elementary school students and give most of its employees a 2 percent pay bump next school year, according to a budget proposal unveiled by Superintendent Ann Clark on Tuesday.

The overall $1.37 billion operating budget is about 4 percent larger than last year’s. It asks for $39.9 million in additional money from Mecklenburg County, for a total of $428.1 million.

“I make no apologies for the recommendations that I put before you,” Clark said, adding that she regretted that it passes along more costs to the county but that it is the district’s job to “do right by the students.”

The budget includes several initiatives around literacy, which CMS defines as reading, writing and speaking. Clark has repeatedly described literacy as the district’s “North Star.”

In total, the literacy programs would cost $6 million. The effort would:

▪ Expand reading camps to rising third-graders. State-funded camps currently serve rising fourth-graders who need extra work as part of the “Read to Achieve” program.

▪ Add professional development for secondary school teachers.

▪ Maintain funding for teacher assistant positions.

Beginning teachers are expected to have their pay raised to $35,000 as part of the state budget. Clark’s budget proposal calls for spending $9.8 million to increase all other employees’ pay by 2 percent.

The request also calls for $2.6 million to cover driver’s education, which will no longer be funded by the state. CMS would also need another $8 million to send to the county’s charter schools, which are expected to grow by about 2,000 students next school year.

Ultimately, the CMS budget could end up looking radically different. The school board could make significant changes in the coming weeks.

The district also depends on the state and Mecklenburg County for money, and county commissioners have often decided to fund CMS differently from what was requested. Last year, commissioners did not provide money for a 3 percent staff salary increase.

CMS will now hold several community meetings to discuss the budget proposal before the school board votes on a final proposal in May. The county then begins its discussions.

Dunn: 704-358-5235;

Twitter: @andrew_dunn

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