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Monday, March 21, 2011

CMS: School board, budgets and decisions

Here's a math lesson. Did you know that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has to create a budget before it knows how much money it will be able to spend? That's because the school district does not control the revenue (money it receives). It comes from the county, the state and other sources. 

CMS Budget

How much is the CMS budget? In 2010-11, the budget is $1.15 billion. That includes:
  • Average per-student spending of $8,523 (for over 135,000 K-12 students)
  • 16,000 employees including over 8,500 full-time teachers
    • Beginning teacher salary is $34,386. CMS budget average for teachers is $45,435.
  • 178 schools including 100 elementary, 36 middle, 33 high, 4 alternative schools and 5 pre-K sites (plus 612 mobile classrooms!)
How does CMS create the budget? As with other governments, CMS plans the budget for several months.
  • People on the CMS staff estimate how many students will attend CMS, and where - this helps to determine the number of teachers and classrooms needed.
  • At planning meetings early in the year, the superintendent and school board work together to decide the important strategic goals for CMS - this helps to determine what goes in the budget.
  • In the winter and spring, the superintendent announces what he intends to put in his budget, and then he makes a formal budget recommendation (scheduled for April 12).
  • After that, the school board - and public - will review and discuss the budget proposal. The public can speak about the budget at different times, including at a public hearing (official chance to speak about the budget) on April 26. The school board can make changes and then plans to adopt the budget on May 10.

State and county government

Is that where it ends? No, in some ways that's only the beginning. CMS receives most of its money from the county and state. The county and state don't finalize their budgets until June.

Follow the county and state budget processes. We'll post more information about that, too.

When it is not working on budgets, what do school leaders do?
  • The superintendent oversees daily CMS operations, keeps the school board and public informed about CMS and implements policies established by the school board.
    • The superintendent, Peter Gorman, welcomes questions and feedback from students
  • The school board is responsible for:
    • Hiring, firing and evaluating the superintendent
    • Establishing school district policy
    • Determining budgets
    • Approving school assignment boundaries
    • Overseeing the management of the district's major systems (curriculum, teachers, transportation, etc.)
Student involvement

Besides going to school, how can students get involved in what happens at CMS and the community?
  • Watch or attend government meetings
  • Serve in a leadership role. If you want to make a difference, that makes you a leader.
  • If you are not sure what's available, ask your principal, a teacher or other students. If no one knows how leaders can get involved, start your own leadership club.
  • Join the youth leadership alliance, Youth Voice. This is a program of Kids Voting Mecklenburg. It provides students with opportunities to get involved in school and local government policies, have important conversations with officials, build leadership skills and make a difference.

Learn more
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
CMS Board of Education
Watch the school board meetings

North Carolina Department of Public Information
NC Board of Education
Example of CMS budget - 2010-11 adopted budget
CMS Legislative Agenda - some examples of state government connections with schools
Read about education news, policies and more - great opportunities for students to comment on news
Mecklenburg County information

Compare CMS budgets and other school districts in New York, Washington, Boston, LA and even Raleigh