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Gorman Wants To Stash $26 Million Grant Until Next Year

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools will get a nearly $26 million gift from the federal government this year. But CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman says the district should wait a year to spend it. CMS has a choice: it could use the money from the Education Jobs Fund this year to re-hire teachers or it could hold onto the money to curb or eliminate teacher layoffs next year. At last night's school board meeting, Gorman said the smart move is to stash most of it away to use next year when CMS will lose stimulus funds. "From the standpoint of the best impact in the classroom, we think being able to keep $25 million worth of great employees another year is the best use of those dollars," said Gorman. "Adding folks now we think will be a challenge." CMS won't get the money until the end of September and then hiring teachers would take another month. By that time, kids are already settled in their classrooms. CMS board members would have to approve how and when to spend the money. The board supports Gorman. Board member Joe White says he's heard many other school boards across the country plan to bank the money for even leaner times next year when stimulus funds go away. CMS expects to be down $50 million then. "Folks, the cliff is real. It is there," said White. "Whether we like it or not we will run off it next year and Dr. Gorman's recommendation will make the landing from falling off that cliff a little bit softer." Kaye McGarry is the only board member who wants to spend most of the money right away. "I don't think that the kids that are in our schools for 2010-2011 should have to wait a whole year to implement having a classroom in a school that has an adequate number of teachers and teaching assistants," McGarry. The board expects to vote next month on when to spend the money.