The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board unanimously and without a word of discussion approved Superintendent Clayton Wilcox's budget plan Tuesday, complete with a $40 million increase in county money.
County commissioners, who have to weigh spending increases against tax hikes or cuts to other services, aren't likely to be quite as mellow about the request.
Wilcox's $1.5 billion budget plan, which includes a request for $468.5 million from Mecklenburg County, has generated little public debate, perhaps overshadowed by the focus on a May 16 teachers' march in Raleigh that is closing schools across the state and a heated political battle over a town charter school bill.
Approval means the school board will ask county commissioners for almost $40 million more than the district is getting this year, at a time when enrollment is expected to be flat or shrink slightly next year. Wilcox and the board say much of that increase comes from rising costs, including county money needed to match an anticipated state teacher raise averaging 7 percent.
Almost $7 million would go toward boosting the local supplement, a relatively small additional raise for each teacher. For instance, a CMS teacher with 10 years' experience and a bachelor's degree now earns $40,550 from the state and a $6,091 local supplement. The proposed local increase would boost that supplement to $6,517.
Other optional increases in the CMS plan include almost $9 million to fortify school buildings against attackers; $4.4 million to hire additional counselors, social workers and psychologists; $2.4 million to expand the custodial staff; and $1.5 million to hire more teachers to help immigrant students learn English.
The school board will hold a joint session with Mecklenburg County commissioners on May 17 to review the request. County commissioners will vote on a budget June 19.
The $40 million requested increase is larger than usual — last year CMS sought a $27 million bump and got about $15 million — but not the largest CMS has ever asked for. Nor is it as big as the request for a $60 million increase in county money the Wake County school board unanimously approved last week.
For more about the CMS plan, go to OurKidsNeedUs.org.