State budget impasse prevents CMS from hiring mental health positions

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are back in session, but dozens of people are missing from the hallways.

Since the state budget is in limbo, CMS is not creating dozens of new student support staff positions.

"It's a shame, certainly, that our children are not receiving services because we can't come to terms on the budget," Commissioner Susan Harden said.

Mecklenburg County commissioners allocated $5.7 million for mental health services in CMS.

The school district said approximately 50 positions are being held up.

Harden said those positions include school counselors, psychologists and social workers

"We know that students do better when their mental health is healthy," Harden said. "These professionals are so important to student academic success."

Director of Research and Policy for the Council of Children's Rights Emily Tamilin said the budget impasse is unfortunate for kids.

According to the most recent youth risk behavior survey compiled by the nonprofit, 21.4% of CMS middle schoolers and 16.2% of high schoolers considered suicide in 2017.  The survey found 25.4% of middle schoolers and 29.4% of high schoolers considered themselves sad or hopeless.

"What's happening is either to the detriment of that child who needs extra support or to the other kids in the classroom," Tamilin said. "The people who are suffering are not the people who are in an impasse, necessarily. It is the children and the teachers who need those services we rightly allocated."