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CMS: Closing Schools Can Only Save So Much

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is anticipating a budget gap of more than $55 million next year after federal stimulus money goes away. Closing schools has been suggested as one way to save money, but it wouldn't save much. CMS estimates closing one elementary school would give the district an extra $465,000 to work with. Closing a middle school would save $610,000 and closing a high school would save $850,000. The district wouldn't have to pay for utilities and the costs for staff like principals and custodians at those schools. And teachers' salaries would still be an expense since they would follow students to other schools. Mike Raible who oversees planning at CMS told the board yesterday closing schools can't be the district's only strategy to plugging the budget gap. "While certain savings may be available through this option, that is closures and consolidations, you can see they certainly do not even come close to approaching the hole we've got for next year," said Raible. Superintendent Peter Gorman has said he may recommend closing up to 10 schools next year. But no names of schools have been floated publicly yet. Gorman says his staff needs to know by November if the board chooses to close schools.