CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district leaders have approved their proposed budget for the next school year. The key new efforts approved for funding primarily revolve around staffing.

Another topic parents feel should be higher on the priority list is safety and security.

“I think they could’ve asked for a lot more and they should’ve asked for a lot more,” said Parent Stephanie Bertorelli.  “And the county and state should’ve given it to them.”

The CMS board’s $2.1 billion budget plan includes asking county commissioners for a $40 million increase in spending for local education.

“The public school system needs more money, it always has, and it always will,” said Bertorelli. “And that’s not something we should skimp on.”

The additional $40 million request in the budget includes more money for charter schools, the opening of two new schools and increases in teacher pay.

“Which is incredibly well deserved, and they need every bit of that,” said Bertorelli.

“While it’s so good to see that the budget includes raises on salary and pay for teachers, that’s only one important component of job satisfaction,” said parent Stacy Staggs. “People have to feel safe, people have to feel valued, people have to feel heard.”

While parents are strongly in favor of teacher pay raises, they still feel overall the budget falls short.

“Where is the acknowledgement that our ratios for support professionals are way off?” Staggs asked.  “There’s not enough focus on student wellness.”

“In the entire budget, safety is mentioned maybe nine times over a 118-page document,” Bertorelli added.  “So, it doesn’t really sound like it’s as high a priority as they’re making it.”

“I do think CMS is falling short with this budget,” Staggs added. “In terms of looking at ways to improve student outcomes.”

Parents feel more funds should go toward the overall wellness of students.

“We always have been told that budgets represent priorities,” said Staggs. “And having such a small percentage focused on student wellness tells us that’s not the priority.”

Mecklenburg County Commissioners still have to give the budget final approval.

Another thing that raised eyebrows for parents is the Interim Superintendent’s comments regarding the raising of test scores being his main goal.

“He made a reference to raising CMS low test scores as being his number one priority,” Staggs said. “And not that that priority in itself is bad, but I wonder how well of a handle he has on the inequity landscape we are dealing with in CMS. I worry that if we are looking at the shallow outside results without engaging the roots of the issues, it’s going to end up being more of the same.”

“Making up for pandemic learning loss is an incredibly important aspect of this school board,” said Bertorelli. “But does it need to be in the form of standardized test scores? No.”