As CMS faces funding cut, group pushes to keep support staff in schools

CHARLOTTE — Schools across Charlotte are staring at a financial cliff as billions of dollars in pandemic funding will expire this fall.

But there’s a nationwide push to keep some roles on the payroll.

More than four years after the COVID-19 pandemic started, the loss of learning is still being felt at schools across the country. Students continue to struggle with chronic absences and low test scores.

To help address the learning loss, districts received nearly $200 billion as part of the federal government’s “Elementary and S econdary School Emergency Relief Fund.”

The money went towards bringing in social workers, school nurses, behavioral and mental health specialists, and school counselors. More money also went to support students in low-income school districts.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools received nearly $200 million in funding. But that’s set to expire in September.

“My sincere hope would be school districts see the importance and the relevance of having these positions in schools and that they would continue those positions and funding for them,” said Jill Cook with the American School Counselor Association.

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Cook and the association are pushing to keep those support staff members at schools, even after the funding runs out.

“They look at grades, they look at test results, they look at absentee rates and they see where there are trends. Then they can design interventions to help address those needs,” Cook said.

A report from the Education Recovery Scorecard shows gaps in academic achievement still remain in some states since the pandemic.

About $60 million of the funds CMS received went toward hiring 722 positions, many of which were guest teachers. A CMS spokesperson told Channel 9 back in February that all 722 employees could apply for 900 open jobs in the district.

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