Surprise! CMS didn’t take the easy way out when the state forced it to cut $5.3 million from its budget. Other districts, including Gaston County Schools, cut money from teacher aid positions and textbooks. CMS was expected to do the same because of its penchant to make bigger splashes and woe-is-us spin by cutting directly from classrooms. Superintendent Peter Gorman said CMS was able to cut the funds from the budget without affecting the classrooms–nearly half of the cuts come from the central office.
“We saw some of this coming earlier this year. We had identified positions that we didn’t fill and that means that schools won’t feel any fresh pain from these reductions. They’ve already made the adjustment from our budget actions earlier.”
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced a second round of reductions to its 2008-2009 budget on Dec. 19, meeting a state request for midyear trims of $5.3 million.
State revenues that were lower than expected brought a shortfall in funds, and school districts statewide were asked to cut a total of $58 million by Dec. 19. The CMS portion of the cuts was $5.3 million, and the district divided the reductions almost equally between school-based spending and central administration.
The district anticipated reductions based on 2008-2009 enrollment that fell below projections. The reductions, which totaled $2.7 million, included positions held back earlier in the budget process.
“These cuts hurt – but we’re probably better positioned than some other districts to make them because of our enrollment coming in below what we expected,” said Dr. Peter C. Gorman, superintendent. “We saw some of this coming earlier this year. We had identified positions that we didn’t fill and that means that schools won’t feel any fresh pain from these reductions. They’ve already made the adjustment from our budget actions earlier.”
Other reductions at the school level were made by postponing the replacement of instructional computers for a year.
At the central-office level, CMS reduced costs by $2.6 million. About $728,000 of that came from a hiring freeze and reorganization of district leadership. Non-personnel reductions were realized in AP testing, school mobile classrooms, staff development costs, and new buses which are expected to come in under projected spending levels. The district also saved more than $540,000 by shifting funding for therapists for Exceptional Children to another funding source.
About 83 percent of the CMS budget goes for salaries and related benefits, and about 85 percent of that is spent at the school level, meaning that the central-office cuts come from a much smaller proportion of the budget than the school-based cuts.
“For now, we anticipate no layoffs and no disruptions to the classroom,” Dr. Gorman said. “But the economic outlook is still pretty grim. It’s important for the district to keep looking ahead. We’ve got six new schools that will open next year, and we’ll have to plan ahead to be sure we can open those schools and keep them running, even in tough budget times such as these.”