MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — On Wednesday, the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners heard public feedback from the community on its upcoming budget. The board, which was not allowed to engage with any of the comments made about the budget, heard over 40 people provide feedback on the budget proposal.
Some of the speakers were parents, concerned over staffing and resources for their children -- especially in light of the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.
"It was terrifying to send them to school today," Kate Murphy, a mother of three CMS students, said. "One thing you can do is fully fund CMS next year. I know you want the same thing. We want excellent education. Underfunding will not get us there."
WCNC Charlotte reached out to Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio after the deadly Texas shooting to ask if more money be allocated for officers in schools. Diorio said hiring officers is not the county's job but it's up to the Charlotte Police Department.
Teachers, education advocates, and other stakeholders were at the meeting to advocate for more money for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
The district is poised to get less than half of the additional money it requested from the county government.
"We asked for $40.4 million," one CMS teacher said at the public hearing. "Unfortunately, that is being cut in half. The board last year waved millions over our heads. There is a lack of care. How can we fill positions without competitive pay?"
The CMS school board and others have a few weeks to try and convince members of the Mecklenburg BOCC to give them additional dollars for the upcoming school year.
“My recommended budget for fiscal year 2023 includes an increase of $19.9 million," Dena Diorio, Mecklenburg County Manager, said at a county budget meeting last week.
CMS requested $40.3 million.
WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to WCNC Charlotte by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The county manager doesn’t have the final say on Mecklenburg County's budget -- commissioners do.
"These are the major things we're talking about not being able to fund," Lenora Shipp, a CMS At-Large Board Member, said. "So yes, I'm very concerned that we're not being the right now."
The proposed money doesn’t fund all staff members' raises and gives CMS half the teacher supplement they asked for.
The teacher supplement is the extra money from the county to bolster paychecks.
“When they were saying we could get 5% of that money, we need the full money," Shipp said. "Why? Because that's what it's going to take to pay all employees and to make sure we are we have a school district that is what marketable."
The county manager expressed last week she thinks differently.
“This additional increase will continue keeping CMS teachers the highest paid in the state of North Carolina," Diorio said.
This back and forth will play out until the end of summer when the final budget is voted on. Deliberation on the budget begins June 15.