Davidson IB Middle students will not have the hours of their school day pushed back 90 minutes in September, but they will face curtailed bus service. And all students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will likely see larger class sizes due to teacher layoffs.
That follows Tuesday night’s vote by the Charlotte Mecklenburg school board to approve the recommended budget for the 2010-11 school year.
“We made some tough decisions, but the reductions we made are necessary – with the exception of the teacher cuts, and I’m not done looking for places to save money (to keep teachers),” said Rhonda Lennon, who holds the District 1 seat on the school board, representing north Mecklenburg County, including Davidson.
BUDGET FOR 2010-11
The board vote seeks $332.9 million from the county to keep the public schools running and cover growth. The amount includes $8 million for opening two new high schools, including William A. Hough High in Cornelius.
The school district receives 28 percent of its funding from the county and 56 percent from the state – and is expecting sharp cuts from both. The new budget request has scenarios to deal with reductions, which are expected to be handed down this summer. According to a press release about the vote, “If all the scenarios are put into operation, CMS would make cuts of more than $78 million and reduce its work force by more than 1,000 employees.” About half of those employees will probably be teachers.
Ms. Lennon told DavidsonNews.net that budget reductions will likely be felt across the school district in two ways: new fees to participate in sports and larger class sizes.
“How that plays out depends on the principals,” she said. “You many not necessarily see larger classes, it may mean less teachers available for other things.”
Ms. Lennon seconded the one successful amendment to the budget request: eliminating CMS TV, for a savings of $350,000. She said she had to make the vote while looking into the CMS TV cameras.
“Every cut we make means someone loses their job,” Ms. Lennon noted.
NO CHANGE FOR DIB BELL SCHEDULE
The board backed away from initial plans to save $1.6 million by changing the bell schedules for four magnet schools, including Davidson IB. The savings would have come in bus scheduling that would have pushed back the school day by 90 minutes, or from 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Parents turned out in force to object to the change, and Ms. Lennon said she received a lot of angry comments from her constituents.
She then recommended that the district find the savings instead by making students pay fees for Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams, which are taken at the high school level. Ms. Lennon said that would save $1.3 million, and she stressed that students who qualify for free or reduced lunches would not have to pay the fees.
In addition, Ms. Lennon said the four IB coordinators at CMS high schools asked to have their schedules reduced from 12 to 11 months, at a savings of $38,000.
Those changes mean that only one of the four magnets – Marie G. Davis in Charlotte – will see its bell schedule pushed back.
Ms. Lennon said she had two objections to the bell schedule change: parents made decisions about putting their children in magnets without knowing about the bell schedule change, and “we’ve never had a school that starts and ends that late.”
At Davidson IB, principal Jo Karney said the bell schedule presented a hardship to working parents. She is relieved the school will keep its current schedule, with the school day starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m.
Tuesday’s budget vote did, however, keep in place plans to set up shuttle stops for students who live more than five miles away from a magnet school. Dr. Karney said the majority of her students live outside the five-mile radius and ride a school bus, so they will be feeling the impact of the board vote.
“It presents new challenges,” she said. “But it’s a ‘single whammy’ rather than a ‘double whammy’ – and it’s the best of the two whammies.”
Once the shuttle stops are confirmed, Dr. Karney said the school will hold parent meetings to discuss carpooling options. The school is also looking at starting an after-school study hall program.
“We will deal with this change and move forward,” she said.