Superintendent says budget request reflects district’s basic needs

CHARLOTTE — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Crystal Hill wanted to clarify why the district’s $1.9 billion budget is asking for $35 million more dollars from the county compared to last year.

“This reflects our very, very basic needs, and we’ve been extremely conservative in the request,” Hill said Wednesday.

Hill presented the proposed budget to school board members the week before.

The budget proposal includes $12 million for 30 capital projects, which were not included in the $2.5 billion bond that voters approved in November 2023.

“That covers the sinking football field at Butler (High School). That pays for the rotting track at Providence (High School). That pays for the air conditioning leak that’s been pouring into Elizabeth Traditional (Elementary School) right now,” Hill said.

The district surveyed parents about what the school system’s funding priorities should be before plugging in the numbers, Hill said.

“The No. 1 answer, without fail, from every single audience was, ‘You have got to figure out how to get the best teachers and staff,’” she said. “The biggest investment is $24 million in our employees.”

Teachers would get an increase in their state-funded salary, as well as an increase in the supplement they receive from Mecklenburg County.

“I want to be confident that the teachers in front of my children are the very best and that they’re going to stay here,” Hill said.

That investment would also help fund a one-time bonus for the district’s lowest-paid employees, such as secretaries and cafeteria workers, to bump their pay to $20 an hour.

However, some school board members were skeptical about that bonus.

“Other staff that get that bonus really aren’t getting up to $20 an hour because of the taxes that they have to pay,” Hill said. “Even if it’s taxed a lot, if you end up with $200 more than you did last year. Who’s going to say no to that?”

CMS will hold the following public meetings regarding the proposed budget:

  • Virtual community engagement session: Monday, April 22, 6 p.m. bit.ly/CMSbudget
  • Public hearing: Board of Education meeting, Tuesday, April 23, 6 p.m. at the Government Center.

The vote on the budget is expected to happen on April 30 and a news conference will be held the following day, the district said.

“Our goal in this budget cycle is to provide information throughout the process in a transparent and forthright manner. We have been engaging with our media partners to assist with that dissemination of information to reach the greatest number of our CMS customers, the Mecklenburg County families who have entrusted their children’s education to us,” Hill said in a news release. “I am grateful to everyone who has been involved and engaged in the budget as its outcome will guide the district to improve learning outcomes for all of our students.”

VIDEO: CMS’ proposed budget includes pay bump for many employees

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.