Tuesday, June 5, 2012

School board to commissioners: Just give us the money

This is an interesting negotiating tactic:

In a letter to the Mecklenburg Board of Commissioners this morning, Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members offered a counterproposal to a county plan that would make CMS give teachers and other employees a 3 percent raise.

That plan, unanimously approved by commissioners in a straw vote last week, would place conditions on $18.55 million of the county's $335 million funding of the schools for the next fiscal year. The conditions: If CMS gives teachers a 3 percent raise, their first in four years, the district gets the $18.55 million. No raises? No $18.55 million. It's the first time commissioners have put restrictions on money already in the county manager's proposed budget.

The school board's counterproposal? We'll take the $335 million, but without the conditions.

The school board tried to disguise the insult with some creative writing, calling its proposal a "partnership" between CMS, the county and the state. (The state's contribution, according to the letter, would be a "$10 million decrease in the discretionary cut of our state funding," which in English means the state will give the schools $10 million more than they expect. School board member Eric Davis said earlier today that the school board has no indication that the state will do so. "But that's what we need to make this work," he said.)

Davis confirmed that the school board is asking for all the funding commissioners gave the nod to in last week's straw vote - except with no restrictions. He declined to speculate whether CMS would accept the $18.55 million with strings attached, but he said doing so would set a bad precedent. "It indicates that the county desires to get involved in school board policy," he said.

Gamesmanship aside, he's right. As we said in an editorial last week, CMS has given the county and the public too many reasons not to trust its leadership, but voters didn't elect county commissioners to line-item the CMS budget. That's the school board's job.

This morning's shell game proposal won't help the school board make that case, but we hope commissioners can look beyond that and take the conditions off the $18.55 million.

Peter St. Onge


Ghoul said...

Erika would take the money with the strings, but since she didn't get her free vacation, its no soup for anyone else!

Wiley Coyote said...

You could give CMS a BILLION extra and it still wouldn't be enough.

J said...

I still wonder why no one is directly responding to Bill James. I hate admitting he's right, but he is - CMS can give raises anytime they want, but they have to eliminate programs that aren't working or are low-priority.

Oh, yeah, that's right - James is a Republican, which around here means you are a knuckle-dragging, stupid racist. Never mind...

mmushin79 said...

Get rid of - or reduce the Bright Beginnnings babysitting service and the budget frees up greatly. Bill James, like him or not, is right. CMS has a ton of money. They use it fo other things than the core principle: grade K-12.