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​How the County Funds Education

9/19/2017

students in classroom Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) Funding

To understand how the County funds CMS, you need to understand the different budgets involved, it’s really a two-part discussion. There are two basic types of funding that CMS receives – operating and capital funds. These types of funding are very different, but equally important.

The operating budget includes expenses such as salaries and benefits, utilities and transportation. The operating budget is the one district staff refers to when they are talking about the budget that pays for the day-to-day expenses for running the district. It includes a mix of County, state and federal funds. Generally, when people refer to the CMS annual budget, they are talking about the operating budget.

The capital budget pays for the design and construction of new schools, expansion of existing schools and major renovation and replacement of older facilities to meet educational standards. Capital expenses are paid by bonds. Voters authorize the state or County to borrow money. Bond obligations are then repaid over a number of years through taxes. Capital expenses are not part of the CMS operating budget.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (BOE) does not have taxing authority, so it has to ask the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for funds each year. County revenues come from several different sources, including property taxes on homes and businesses, County sales taxes and fees. This means that when there is an economic downturn, there is less revenue for the County which means there are fewer dollars available for local agencies, departments and programs, such as the library system and CMS.

For the 2018 Fiscal Year, CMS requested and increase of $27 million in support from the County. The BOCC approved an increase of $15.3 million. The money will go to the CMS operating budget to support the costs of opening new facilities, cost increases for health and retirement benefits, sustaining operations, and a portion of request to expand student support services including guidance counselors and social workers.

Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) Funding

The County provides funds to CPCC based on square footage and enrollments. Increases in square footage and/or enrollments usually result in increased funds for the college. County funds cover operating expenditures in these areas:

  • Building operations—utilities, maintenance, repairs and general upkeep of six campuses. CPCC has 2.7 million square feet of buildings.
  • Other general expenses such as security, insurance, vehicles, parking decks, housekeeping, and technology infrastructure.

 

This year CPCC requested an increase of $620,000 to their operating budget which the BOCC agreed to fund in full.

Early Care and Education Funding

Earlier this year, data in the Opportunity Task Force report showed that children that have early childhood education experiences are more likely to graduate high school, attend college, increase their earning potential over their lifetime, and reduce the risk of becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

Historically, the County has focused on investing in K through 12 education and community colleges. However, what we have learned is that while those investments are sound, too many children enter kindergarten not ready to learn. They don’t possess the basic language and social skills needed to be successful and their ability to catch-up is hampered by inadequate supports to teachers and families.

The Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes some money to help begin to reverse that trend. The BOCC committed to putting $6 million dollars toward expanding the child care subsidy program. Child care subsidies are for working families making 200 percent or below the federal poverty line. As of April 30, 2017, there were 3,488 children age birth to five on the waiting list for child care subsidy. This $6 million investment will allow 824 children to attend an early childhood program and would eliminate all 4 and 5-year-olds from the waiting list.

Read Charlotte Funding

Mecklenburg County has been a lead funder and creator of Read Charlotte, a community initiative that unites families, educators and community partners to improve children’s literacy from birth to third grade with a goal of doubling reading proficiency from 39 percent to 80 percent by 2025.

Reading proficiency at third grade is a critical predictor of school, career and life success. Children who are not reading at grade level by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. As Read Charlotte has gained momentum, it has identified numerous strategies proven to positively impact reading proficiency. However, there is a need to improve the availability, quality and use of data for decision making and tracking progress toward achieving the 2025 goal. The Read Charlotte Data Collaborative will use common assessments standardized program evaluation and professional development to create a data driven culture, drive performance improvement and enhance the effectiveness of providers participating in the collaborative. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget includes $300,000, $100,000 a year for three years, to support the data collaborative.

CMS Bond

The BOCC approved adding a $936.9 million bond to the ballot in November to support building 10 new schools and completing 12 high-priority renovations.

CMS would receive a significant investment in education facilities as part of the County’s Capital Improvement Plan which addresses nearly half of the projects identified in CMS’s 10-year capital needs assessment. Combined with $150 million from the ongoing Capital Maintenance Plan, Mecklenburg County plans to invest more than $1 billion in school facilities over the next six years.

The plan provides for 10 new schools to reduce overcrowding and accommodate student growth, the replacement of old schools, and much needed renovations and additions. The plan would also replace six of the oldest schools in the County: West Charlotte High School, Briarwood Elementary, Collinswood Language Academy, Lansdowne Elementary, Montclaire Elementary, and Shamrock Gardens Elementary.