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Budget Change For CMS Proposed

Charlotte Observer File

Some county commissioners are floating an idea of giving CMS a specific percentage of the county’s budget each year.

Republican County Commissioner Jim Puckett says over the past 20 years, the county has given CMS about 50 percent of its budget to operate the district and renovate and build schools. He says if they set aside a set percentage of county revenue for CMS, instead of different amounts each year, it will make the budget process more efficient.

“We don’t go through this dog and pony show of them coming and begging for money and rolling out a particular project as a reason we should fund it,” Puckett said. “We need to do this in a businesslike, adult manner and say this is what we can afford and we’re going to leave it to you guys to decide how to best spend that money.”

Last year’s budget process bogged down over pay raises for CMS teachers and other employees. Puckett says this proposal would give CMS more time to plan.

“The county manager can give them a really good estimate of what the projected revenue will be probably in the January to February realm as opposed to CMS having to wait until June to find out what their dollars will be by a vote made by the county commission and they can start planning their year appropriately,” Puckett said.

At least one Democrat supports Puckett’s idea. County Commissioner Vilma Leake is a former school board member. She says she welcomed a similar proposal when she was on the school board but the votes on the commission were not there to make it happen.

CMS board vice chair Elyse Dashew says she’s open to the county allotting a set  percentage of its budget for CMS but she does not think it is as simple as Puckett makes it seem.

“There may be times when we have more students or when the state cuts back on funding and the county may have more revenue and we may need to ask the county to make up for that,” Dashew said.

County commissioners are now looking at how other school district that have adopted similar budget policies have fared. 

Gwendolyn is an award-winning journalist who has covered a broad range of stories on the local and national levels. Her experience includes producing on-air reports for National Public Radio and she worked full-time as a producer for NPR’s All Things Considered news program for five years. She worked for several years as an on-air contract reporter for CNN in Atlanta and worked in print as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun Media Group, The Washington Post and covered Congress and various federal agencies for the Daily Environment Report and Real Estate Finance Today. Glenn has won awards for her reports from the Maryland-DC-Delaware Press Association, SNA and the first-place radio award from the National Association of Black Journalists.