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State Ed Board Invites School Districts To Share Budget Woes

The North Carolina State Board of Education will hold a special 5-hour meeting in Durham Tuesday afternoon to hear from all 115 local school districts about their budget problems. Districts are bracing for the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in state and federal funding next year. This is hardly the first time the State Board of Education has asked local district leaders to weigh-in on budget problems. But the board's legislative director Ann McColl says today's meeting is the first time officials from every district in the state have been invited to make their comments in person. "Normally information would come to us in writing and reports . . . and we wanted an opportunity where we could hear directly from them and allow them to present the information in a way that made the most sense for them," says McColl. McColl says the face-to-face meeting will let board of education members ask questions and get a better understanding of how budget cuts have affected school districts. The State Board of Education budgets every two years - which means next year's budget was approved last year. It calls for a $7 million reduction in funding for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. CMS will also lose $25.5 million in federal funds that were a one-time infusion to save teacher jobs. But, tax revenues for the state and Mecklenburg County are ahead of projections and CMS interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh plans to ask for some of that money. He wants the county to boost the district's budget by $27.5 million next year to raise employee salaries.