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Cornelius News

CMS funding dispute heading toward mediation

June 2. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will initiate the dispute resolution statute after the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners approved its 2021-2022 budget, which CMS said underfunds Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools by a total of $81 million.

In a 7-2 vote yesterday, county commissioners passed a $2 billion budget for next fiscal year but withheld funding in an effort to force CMS to come up with a plan that addresses the county’s failing schools, which are attended mainly by Black and Hispanic students.

Racial disparities

Before releasing the money, county commissioners want a detailed that addresses race-based disparities in educational outcomes.

CMS said the failure to appropriate the requested funds “will indisputably harm students, teachers, and schools.”

About half of the amount placed in contingency—$27.4 million—affects school-based staff exclusively, including principals, assistant principals, learning specialists and administrative staff in schools.


‘Misinformation campaign’

CMS Board Chair Elyse Dashew called the move “political theater, and grandstanding.”

“We are dismayed that this funding dispute has reached the point where we must seek statutory resolution, but we will not stand by while the County impedes our efforts to educate students,” she said, labeling the county board’s statements “misinformation.”

She said the County has incorrectly claimed CMS has no strategic plan.

“We do, and they have seen it many times. They claim we can use federal COVID funds to cover non-COVID needs; we cannot. They even claim we have 166 schools; we have 176 schools,” Dashew said.

Work together

The thrust of the CMS argument is that students would be better served if the two boards could collaborate as good-faith partners in accordance with the roles assigned to by statute.

Many students have lost ground due to COVID and remote learning. Meanwhile, there is no provision for contingent funding in the model that exists for the County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. ​

“There has never been an instance of less money improving student performance, here in North


Carolina or anywhere else. What the County is doing will be harmful, especially to students who are already at risk and need more support, not less. Even the GOP-controlled General Assembly has seen fit to hold school districts harmless from the short term COVID impacts on enrollment, but the Democrats on the County Commission want to take money away from the very students they claim they want to help. We cannot afford to play these kinds of political games when our children’s education and our ability to give them the tools for a productive life are at stake.”

—Jennifer De La Jara, member at large
CMS Board of Education