CMS has been moving in the right direction. Student performance is up and the achievement gap is narrowing. The $170 million worth of prior cuts forced CMS to tighten its belt. An additional cut of $100 million will jeopardize student achievement. It may even undo years of hard-won progress and do damage that will take years to repair.
Taxpayers consistently rank K-12 education as their highest priority and even say they are willing to sacrifice for public education. The state legislature, which is instituting these cuts, is unwilling to reconsider how their decision will affect CMS. The County Commission, however, which provides important funds to the school system, has an opportunity to ease the impact on our schools. The recent property revaluation revealed the Mecklenburg properties are valued approximately 30% higher than they were seven years ago. If the county maintains the current property tax rate they will raise an additional $55 million or more. They can then shift some of this money to the school system. Maintaining the property tax rate means that citizens who own a $225,000 home that is revalued to $275,000 will see an increase of $35/month in their property tax. For the 30% of residents whose homes lost value, their tax bill would decrease. Find out how your tax bill will change by using our Property Tax Calculator and inputting your own home’s old and new values.
If the County Commission pledges additional money to CMS we are committed to ensuring that the school board and the superintendent apply that money to the cuts they have promised. That means beginning with the last cut listed on their budget cut sheet, which is class size and moving up. An additional $35 million should mean that class sizes will remain at their current level, the weighted student ratio will return to 1.3 and each school will get to keep all of its support staff. You can see the full budget cut list here.
So, choose to make a difference. Write a letter. Find out how our County funding compares to other County funding and how it has changed over the years. Or something else: we have more suggestions for what you can do here. Be a part of protecting education in Mecklenburg County.