CHARLOTTE -- It was a busy night for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education Tuesday after board members voted on student assignment principles, hiring firms for its superintendent search and assignment plan, as well as voting to put a bond referendum on November’s ballot. This all after a public hearing on the district’s proposed budget.
First on their agenda, parents and community members were able to weigh in on the district's proposed budget of nearly $1.4 billion.
Superintendent Ann Clark made the request earlier this month, which is about a $23 million increase from last year to help fund teacher raises and other operating costs.
During the hearing, a few parents said they couldn't support the budget request because they don't like the way the board has handled the process for a new student assignment plan.
“Why should we increase funding an organization that is so beholden to special interests it does not care who it drives away?” said Maria Nair, a CMS parent.
The board still needs to vote on the budget request before presenting it to Mecklenburg County commissioners next month.
The CMS board also approved its guiding principles for a new student assignment plan Tuesday.
Many parents and teachers voiced concerns over the draft last week during a public hearing.
Some urged the school board to delay this vote, but several school board members said they're glad they’re moving forward in this process.
The school board also voted 8-1 to hire Alves Educational Consulting Group, Ltd. to assist with the student assignment process. Rhonda Lennon was the only board member opposed because she says the firm is known for promoting “controlled choice” options for students, and she doesn’t think that aligns with the district’s goals.
Many parents at the meeting agreed with Lennon, holding signs of disapproval for the consultant firm chosen by the board.
The district will pay the firm $135,000 from May through December to help develop the new assignment plan.
The board also voted to approve a nearly $805 million bond referendum request for capital needs.
This request will head to Mecklenburg County commissioners, who will decide whether to add the bond to November’s ballot.
If approved, the bond money would fund nearly 30 projects for new schools and renovations across the school district. Lennon also did not vote for this bond.
Finally, CMS leaders took the next step in finding a new superintendent for the district.
The school board voted to hire McPherson and Jacobson as the search firm to facilitate in the process of hiring a new superinendent. The contract ends April 2017, but it can be extended for another year.
CMS says the firm specializes in national searches for public and non-profit organizations across the U.S.
Superintendent Clark's contract was extended this year, and it will now end next summer.