What’s important in the new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools budget proposal

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What happened:

Superintendent Clayton Wilcox unveiled his first budget proposal as head of CMS, outlining the priorities he wants to spend more money on next school year.

Key facts:

The big thing is school safety. This breaks down into a few big buckets.

Mental/emotional support staff ($4.4 million)

  • 33 new elementary school counselors
  • 17 new school social workers
  • 10 new school psychologists

Physical security ($9.8 million)

  • Hardened doors and windows with extra locks, reinforced glass and tinted film.
  • Fencing and perimeter controls
  • In-classroom cameras and more video monitoring.
  • 5 new police officers, 2 locksmiths and 2 electronics specialists.

Other major components of the budget:

  • 7% pay raise for teachers
  • 3% pay raise for admins/staff
  • $500,000 for more diversity training for teachers. Only 800 out of 9,400 teachers would get it, though.
  • 46 new custodians
  • $40 million in new county funding. Note: CMS rarely gets everything it asks for from the county commissioners.

Why this matters:

The physical safety component will be a tough needle to thread. We all want safer schools, but the execution at the individual campus level will be critical. Nobody wants a school to look and feel like a prison.

The custodian proposal is also super interesting. This is reflective of Wilcox’s philosophy on school culture. He came in and immediately started mowing lawns himself. Wilcox believes that a nice-looking school has spillover effects — almost like the “broken windows” model of policing.

It’s also notable that Wilcox is branding this as a “call to action” instead of the usual government bureaucracy. It’s just marketing, but CMS’s destiny is controlled by the state legislature and county commissioners so marketing is important.

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Andrew Dunn
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Editor-in-Chief