Education

CMS school board plans budget vote, assignment session this week

ahelms@charlotteobserver.com

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will vote on a 2016-2017 budget and chart next steps in its student assignment review this week.

The board’s regular meeting Tuesday includes a vote on the $1.4 billion budget plan Superintendent Ann Clark presented last month.

Most of the spending plan remains in flux, awaiting decisions by the North Carolina General Assembly and Mecklenburg County commissioners. Tuesday’s vote will determine whether the board asks the county for a $23 million increase, to $425 million.

Clark says most of that hike is needed to keep up with rising costs and growing enrollment, including students who choose charter schools. Her plan also calls for an additional $3 million to expand busing to magnet schools.

The board’s policy committee, which has led an ongoing review of student assignment, meets Thursday, for the first time since the board hired a controversial consultant to guide the next steps.

The decision to hire Alves Educational Consultants Group, based in Massachusetts, sparked joy in some circles and concern in others because the consultants are nationally known for their work using “controlled choice” and other strategies to make schools more economically diverse.

Neighborhood school proponents worry that controlled choice plans don’t assure students that they’ll get a school assignment based on where they live. But CMS board members and consultant Michael Alves say the group will work within the CMS guidelines, which call for a mix of neighborhood schools and choice, with some boundary and magnet admission decisions designed to boost diversity.

The school board has also scheduled a special meeting next week to discuss a superintendent search. The board recently hired the Nebraska-based McPherson Jacobson search firm to help find a successor to Clark, whose contract ends in June 2017.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

What’s next

Tuesday: Regular board meeting, 6 p.m. in the meeting chamber of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. Meeting includes public comments on any topic; call 980-343-5139 by noon Tuesday or sign up onsite before the meeting begins. Meeting is broadcast live on CMS-TV Cable 3 and online.

Thursday: Policy committee meets at 10:30 a.m., room 527 of the Government Center. Open to the public.

May 18: Special board meeting on the superintendent search, 4 p.m. in room 280 of the Government Center. Open to the public.

Details: Including agenda and board member contact information, www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe.

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