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Charlotte Area News

Gorman: Gov's budget doesn't give CMS enough leeway to cut

http://66.225.205.104/LM20100421a.mp3

Governor Bev Perdue says her proposed budget gives school districts the flexibility to make cuts where they make the most sense. But Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools officials say one stipulation in her plan would greatly get in the way of that. Governor Bev Perdue has proposed cutting state money to school districts by 4 percent as part of $1 billion in state budget cutbacks next year. "This flex cut then allows people at the local level to make the decisions that can meet the budget requirements, but also do the least damage to the school classroom and the kids," says Perdue. But the governor's plan does not leave it completely up to districts to cut where they see fit. Perdue has proposed requiring districts to hold onto all teachers and teaching assistants in kindergarten through third grade. CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman has proposed laying-off 600 teachers and 164 teaching assistants next year to deal with expected budget cuts. It's not clear how many of those positions would be from kindergarten, first, second and third grade ranks. Gorman says the governor's plan would severely limit the district from making good choices. "You take the biggest portion of your spending and then you take the most intense part of that spending and take that off the table. What that means is we have to make deeper cuts in other areas to offset that," says Gorman. "That's the kind of thing that unfortunately ends up driving up class size in high school or other areas even more. We think that would be very damaging." Gorman says he'll inform the board of Perdue's budget proposal as the district continues with its own plan to deal with cuts. State lawmakers will reconvene next month to begin compiling their own versions of the state budget.