MEDIA RELEASE: Proposed cuts to Charlotte schools a “harrowing preview” of threats to North Carolina's future

Proposed cuts to Charlotte schools a “harrowing preview” of threats to North Carolina's future
Without revenue reform, experts say, job loss and economic trouble are on the horizon in communities throughout the state
RALEIGH (Jan. 13, 2011) – This week, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Peter Gorman proposed a slate of recommendations to cut the district’s budget by 10 percent. State budget experts say that this proposal offers a window into the tangible local impact that cuts have on vital public structures like schools, colleges, courts and hospitals.

“The superintendent's proposal is a harrowing preview of the threats to our economic future,” said Edwin McLenaghan, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center's Budget & Tax Center. “Unless we reform our outdated revenue system to prevent the worst of these cuts, North Carolina communities will face job losses, fewer educational opportunities and a grim economic future.”

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg proposal, McLenaghan said, is the first in a series of cuts that are likely to be proposed across the state in the coming months.

Gov. Beverly Perdue's has instructed agency heads to prepare a plan for 10 percent cuts to schools. Superintendent Gorman's proposed budget cuts are the first high-profile reaction to these instructions.
The cuts outlined by Gorman, which amounted to over $100 million in the next fiscal year, would result in:

•    the loss of over 1,500 jobs in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools

•    increasing class sizes by two students in grades 4 through 12

•    reducing the number of classes in the system’s effective Bright Beginnings pre-Kindergarten program from 175 to 70.

•    adjusting the weighted-student staffing formula, thereby reducing the amount of resources available to schools with high concentrations of poverty.

“Slashing jobs and education not only threatens North Carolina's fledgling economic recovery,” said McLenaghan, “it will harm millions of children and families across the state.”

Proposed cuts along these lines, observers say, will soon be echoed in school districts and public institutions throughout North Carolina.
But there are alternatives. Reforming the state’s revenue system McLenaghan said, could help prevent the worst of these cuts, saving tens of thousands of public- and private-sector jobs, improving the state’s finances, and building the physical and human capital necessary for all North Carolinians to prosper in the years and decades ahead.
“Reforming our outdated revenue system would save jobs in the public and private sectors,” he said. “In the short term, that preserves our economic recovery. In the long term, it builds the foundation for prosperity in North Carolina.”
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Jeff  Shaw, Director of Communications, NC Justice Center, 503.551.3615,  jeff@ncjustice.org; Edwin McLenaghan, NC Budget & Tax Center,  919.861.1468.
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