An issue last night that really got me fired up was in regards to the Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) system and their proposed budget cuts. I watched the first couple minutes of the 10 o'clock Fox Charlotte news broadcast, something I rarely do. Given the board meeting on Tuesday night, one of the opening pieces was the proposed CMS budget cuts. The following excerpts are from a Charlotte Observer article and detail the proposed cuts in the budget:
Class size: Increase classes by an average of two students in grades 4-12. Savings: $15.1 million.
Support staff: Eliminate one support position, such as counselors, facilitators and librarians, from each school. Savings: $11.2 million.
Teacher assistants: Eliminate them from first and second grades. Savings: $9.3 million.
School maintenance: Cut more than 50 custodians and other areas of building services. Savings: $8.1 million.
Teacher bonuses: Cut incentive, signing and critical-needs bonuses. Savings: $4.3 million.
Career tech: Eliminate unfilled career-technical education jobs. Savings: $3.2 million.
School protection: Eliminate more than 20 campus security staff and make other cuts to school law enforcement. Savings: $1.2 million.
After-school: Reduce money for after-school and weekend programs. Savings: $1.1 million.
Middle-school sports: Eliminate them, with money from high school sports that covered the cost this year shifted to supporting high school athletics. Savings: $400,000.
I understand times are tough and money is tight, but in my opinion, some of the proposed cuts are ridiculous and CMS is walking the fine line of disaster. First off, the school district has a 1 billion dollar plus budget for 2011 and they are proposing to cut middle school athletics to help save $400,000. What is this saying to kids in middle school? "Hey, our budget is over 1 billion dollars, but we don't want you playing sports after school. Instead go play some video games or get into some trouble, we are saving 400k!" Secondly, support staff, teachers assistants in first and second grades, and school protection staff are being reduced. Maybe this is just me, but those seem pretty important. So with news reports weekly of kids bringing guns to school and harming other students and teachers, who makes the call that we should just reduce school security and make it even more likely for these events to happen here? Maybe it's because, luckily, none of those news reports have been in Charlotte, but when does that time come? This year, next year? Third, in my opinion, teachers assistants in first and second grade are important. I have a high regard for teachers, maybe because my mom was a teacher, but it seems that in those grades it is of the utmost importance for a teacher to have some help. I can't imagine having 25-30 first or second graders in a room all day and not having a little help. What a great way to burn out a good teacher, stick them in a room all day with 25-30, 6-7 year olds, and tell them to manage. Lastly the incentive cuts, I get that. In today's time, many people are taking pay cuts, accepting lower paying jobs, not getting bonuses or raises, which is understandable given the economy.
I guess it's time to get off the soapbox, but I think this is completely ridiculous. The reporter even said that CMS is a model school system and is looked upon as being a leader in education by other school systems around the country. Peter Gorman and CMS is quickly becoming a laughing stock of many school systems. His inability to manage the school district and making outlandish budget cuts is affecting kids, the future of our county, state, and country. I don't have a child, but I think education should be the biggest focus, outside of the economy, of the county and even the nation as a whole. Kids should be given every opportunity to succeed in life. Education should be the top priority followed by sports and after school programs. Kids are our future and no corners should be cut in order to save some cash. Of course school played a huge role in my childhood, but so did sports. It teaches you discipline, teamwork, develops friendships, and most of all, kept me out of trouble and away from the TV, video games, and the computer. I have so much more I can shed on these subjects, but this is already very long and jumbled, so I am going to end the rant by saying that I think CMS is walking a fine line with the direction of the school system. If the school system isn't going to invest in kids and give them a chance, who is?