Meck County, CMS strike deal over $56 million in withheld funding

CHARLOTTE — The fight over millions of dollars in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools funding has come to an end. An agreement has been reached between the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners and the CMS Board of Education over funding for Fiscal Year 2022.

>> Watch the video at the top of this page to learn more about how school and county leaders came to a consensus.

The county previously withheld $56 million from the school district, demanding a plan to improve school and student success.

[PAST COVERAGE: ‘I did what you told me to do’: County manager defends holding $56M from CMS]

The CMS Board of Education and the county board of commissioners resolved their dispute Wednesday night. The county will remove restrictions placed on the $56 million to make the funds available to CMS.

The county will also increase its operating funds of $17.2 million for the 2021-2022 budget. The total county funding will be $538 million, which is $11.1 million more than originally appropriated to CMS.

“We are pleased to announce that after engaging in the mediation process, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education have reached an agreement to resolve the current dispute,” said Dunlap. “Both Boards have worked collaboratively through their respective working groups to identify ways to improve transparency and provide more clarity and focus on the education of the children in Mecklenburg County and to provide additional resources to improve educational outcomes for students in Mecklenburg County.”

The CMS Board of Education agreed to place an increased focus on improving student outcomes through the Student Outcomes-Focused Governance model and will work with a consultant on the implementation. The model includes clearly defining goals to improve student outcomes, redesigning board meetings to focus on the goals, and conducting annual evaluations of the Superintendent based on those goals.

According to a release, the Board of Education will share information on the model in a facilitated workshop with County Commissioners.

The Board of Education will also make available on their website, www.cms.k12.nc.us, School Improvement Plans, which they will update with new data in the fall, and annually thereafter. The School Improvement Plans will include identified goals, actions, and progress toward achieving the Plan goals for all low-performing schools. These plans will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis, in a single location on the CMS website.

In addition, the site will provide the annual “State of the School Report” with opportunities and challenges for each improvement plan. The Board of Education has also made the data and annual targets that support their strategic plan available on their website.

In addition to making the School Improvement Plans easily accessible to the public and providing information to County Commissioners on their planned Student Outcomes-Focused Governance model, the Board of Education also agreed to provide information on several key topics that include:

  • The National Institute of Justice Research Study – Year 2 report and relevant materials
  • Information on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education use of Restorative Practices
  • Information on the use of culturally responsive instruction
  • Information on the specific actions being implemented to address the challenges identified in the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) report, what is being purchased, and a detailed breakdown of County funded positions for MTSS support and, any update received by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education will be shared with the Board of Commissioners
  • Updated short-term suspension policy to address disproportionality
  • All CMS Management Oversight Reports and Equity Reports after they are presented to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education

The county will also give CMS up to $1 million to improve the district’s website.

“We are delighted to turn the page on this budget dispute. The children of Mecklenburg County need us to work together on their behalf,” said Board of Education Chair Elyse Dashew. “We look forward to collaborating with the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners -- respectfully and strategically, in accordance with our distinct roles and responsibilities. This kind of collaboration is key to making progress in addressing the systemic issues that challenge so many of our students.”

Dunlap said the agreement was reached in the spirit of cooperation and represents the first step to an ongoing commitment to improving the educational outcomes, particularly for children of color, residing in Mecklenburg County.

(WATCH BELOW:‘ Stop failing our kids’: Charlotte leaders rally as county aims to withhold $56M from CMS)