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Read Tom Bowers' complete statement is below:
We appreciate the important synergy that exists between CMS, who develop and present a strong budget plan and the Commission, which must ensure careful oversight of the CMS budget. It is clear that both groups take their responsibilities seriously and conduct themselves with integrity and mutual respect.
The League of Women Voters has always supported strong public education. Our Charlotte-Mecklenburg League has been closely following the new CMS student assignment plan and bond referendum. We witness the educational challenges our community faces and the great legacy and successes we enjoy.
Members of the League urge your full support for the bond issue to build, replace and renovate much needed schools throughout the county because it will provide facilities that now serve almost twice the students for which a building was built. This results in aging mobile units, overburdened cafeterias, inadequate restrooms and no space for special classes.
These capital expenditures will also expand access to the district's planned magnet programs.
The League strongly urges you to approve the proposed expenditure to wipe out the waiting list of four and five-year-olds for the child care subsidy program. Study after study confirms the value of pre-K education for all children. You will recall that the Opportunity Task Force said,
"A child's earliest years have a profound and often lasting impact on his or her school success, career success, and adult life. Early care and education in particular pose opportunities for substantial long-term benefits to both children and the general public."
Chicago and Michigan studies* show that investments in early education return $7 to $16 for every dollar spent by reducing costs of remedial education, criminal justice, and welfare while increasing worker skills, income levels and economic productivity,
The budget proposal for early childhood education to serve all four and five-year-olds is a welcome start, and we urge your approval.
Important funding is still needed to complete the CMS plan for meeting the social and emotional needs of our students. $4.5 million is requested to provide an additional 42 counselors, 6 psychologists and 12 social workers. Physical and social needs must be met before a teacher can teach and a child can learn.
A caring community funds that commitment. We trust that as caring stewards you will support these vital programs that build the foundation for all of our futures. Thank You all!
Read the full remarks below:
We at the League appreciate that the Board made some changes to increase socioeconomic diversity in CMS schools. Reducing concentrations of poverty was one of the key guidelines, and you've helped us make a start in that direction.
However, the overall impacts of the plan on making schools more socioeconomically diverse were minimal. We believe such diversity is an important element for students learning in the 21st century, and we urge you to ensure that no matter what zip code a child is born into, he or she will acquire an equitable educational opportunity. We look to you to make sure that the many elements that define school equity are present across CMS, and we hope to see a new Equity Committee formed that can assess and monitor our progress.
The Opportunity Task Force vision for us is that we be :a community that cares about all our children and youth --regardless of income, race or zip code-- and is a community where all our children feel they belong, have big dreams, and find the opportunities to achieve those dreams." As we watch the reactions to your very modest changes to our student assignment plan, we do not yet see that community. The Task Force asks for our leaders -- "governmental, philanthropic, business, faith, nonprofit, neighborhood, and grassroots--as well as the community at large," to "willingly come together to reorganize our systems and structures, to change policies and practices, and to boldly embrace and rally around their vision." The League of Women Voters Charlotte Mecklenburg shares that aspiration and hopes that you act according to this vision on behalf of all of us.