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Funding Cliff looms for CMS

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' budget is about a day away from being completed. The district's budget will be $100 million smaller than last year's. Now, officials are looking two years ahead, when they expect to have a $47 million shortfall. WFAE's Simone Orendain has more: To satisfy cuts in funding from the county and the state, CMS laid off more than 1,100 employees and reduced or eliminated numerous expenses such as maintenance and travel. And to plug some holes in this year's budget, federal stimulus money was used to fund a preschool program, 41 existing positions and 19 new ones. To complicate things, the state pulled another $35 million from the CMS budget intended to pay salaries of secretaries and custodians. The Perdue administration replaced it with stimulus so, there was no gain Superintendent Peter Gorman notes that money won't be there in two years. "Meaning that we have a structural deficit built in our budget today that we know two years from now, we have a $46.6 million hit we will take," he explains. Gorman acknowledges that using the temporary stimulus money to fund positions is a gamble. But he says he had to weigh the benefits of having strong teachers now and having to find scarce money to pay for them later. Gorman says the district will start planning soon in anticipation of the stimulus funding coming to an end in 2011.