Mecklenburg County poised to give CMS $30M of requested $40M

CHARLOTTE — Mecklenburg County commissioners are poised to give Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools $30 million of the extra $40 million it requested from the county.

County commissioners took a straw vote, or preliminary vote, on the budget to reach that decision on Wednesday. One parent told Channel 9 she organized a protest before the meeting, pushing for more money.

CMS is asking the county for $578 million for next year’s budget -- that’s $40 million more than last year. But the county is only recommending half the increase for a total of $558 million.

Without the extra funding, the district says teachers and other employees wouldn’t get the raises they’ve been pushing for. CMS parent Amy Nelson says that’s part of why she’ll be protesting.

“We demand, and request, and plea and cajole for funding to adequately support our schools, so here we are again,” she said.

Despite protests, the budget isn’t likely to change much. At last check, only two county commissioners have pushed for the full $40 million increase.

County Manager Dena Diorio said Mecklenburg County can’t fund the full request because the CMS budget is rising faster than the county’s general fund. To get the full amount, some commissioners say the money would have to come from other projects or agencies.

Diorio defended her position Wednesday, saying the district has declining enrollment and nearly 1,000 job vacancies that CMS could use the money from.

“There are sufficient dollars for CMS to fund all of the things that they want to do, they just have to learn how to make different choices,” Diorio said in the meeting.

Commissioner Mark Jerrell motioned for $10 million above Diorio’s recommendation.

“That provides $30 million of the total ask, which is 75% of the total ask,” Jerrell said. “It’s a 50% increase from what the manager recommended that moves us a little bit closer.”

That motion passed 5 to 3. The next step is a formal vote.

That $10 million increase from what was proposed is coming from fund balance and will go toward preventative maintenance.

Commissioner Vilma Leake said she’ll vote it down, saying CMS mismanages the money that it already has.

“I’m not going to support giving them another dime, and I’m saying it loud and clear,” Leake said. “Because they do not return results, and if it was a business, they’d be closed down 10 years ago.”

County commissioners will continue their deliberations over the budget Thursday with a final vote expected as soon as next week.

(WATCH BELOW: CMS Board approves district’s request to auction off clear backpacks)