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CMS cutting $79M from planned budget, but that's a moving target

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is working with a budget scenario of $79 million in reductions - for now. This latest scenario would eliminate around 1,100 positions from the district. About 370 of those are teachers. CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman told the school board last night there are several factors that could change the budget picture before he officially presents next year's spending plan in April. "So as you look at that, we don't know what the federal stimulus will be. We don't know what impact. We don't know what a final number from the county will be. We are planning for a five percent state reduction," he said. This scenario does not account for possible federal stimulus money. Board member Tom Tate again reiterated that the district should be trimming even more. But he was at a loss for what to get rid of. He said, "I don't have places that I can say we ought to go and get more money there. We ought to get more money somewhere. While I don't like a lot of it. I don't know exactly how not to make these cuts." Tate said he didn't want to see resources taken out of high poverty schools. Under this scenario positions across all schools would be up for elimination. Board member Larry Gauvreau said the reductions should be seen as an opportunity to cut spending once and for all. "I want to make it clear that my interest in reducing 10 percent or more of CMS' operating budget was never because I thought we had a budget shortfall. It was because we have a spending crisis in this town," he said. Gauvreau called for reducing school bus service and cutting back on a pre-K program for disadvantaged children. After the meeting Gorman said this $79 million reduction scenario is what principals will base their planning on for next school year. And as the district plans next year's budget, it's scrambling to give money back to the county from this year's budget. Gorman says he learned Monday that the county asked for another $2.5 million dollars back. That's on top of $2.5 million the county ordered CMS to give back last month.