On the eve of a citizen vote on a sales tax hike that could boost teacher pay, Supt. Heath Morrision addressed the Forum, leaving his pitch for consideration of the sales tax question to the end. Before he got there, he had:
– Led a moment of silence for West Charlotte High School Football Coach Mo Collins, who died of kidney disease Sunday. Collins, a West Charlotte grad who came back to give back after years of pro ball, will be honored at halftime at Friday’s football game with MECKA 8 conference opponent A.L. Brown from Kannapolis.
– Reviewed parent engagement efforts with Dr. Karen Mapp, director of the education policy and management program at Harvard Graduate School of Education and former Boston Public School deputy superintendent of family and community engagement.
– Reported that test scores outpaced the N.C. average last year; SAT scores increased; graduation rates are up to 85.3%, with every demographic group up and African-American and Hispanic male rates up 7 percentage points. “I know we have a lot more work to do.”
– Argued that late word on the year’s budget (three weeks before schools opened) complicated teacher hiring. The statewide 7% teacher pay raise had only .3% increases for long-term teachers. If the sales tax referendum is approved, Morrison said he would recommend to the school board a way to use the money after recommendations from three stakeholder groups within CMS.
As for the tax increase question, Morrison said, “I can’t tell you how to vote, nor would I ever presume to. But I can tell you this opportunity is in front of us. I can tell you, no offense to my judge partners here, but you have to go through an awful lot of judges on the ballot before you get to the sales tax referendum.
“There will be nothing on that sales tax language that will say, ‘Schools, Libraries, Arts & Science Council, Community College.” I’m just going to ask that, if you see fit, to honor our teachers; if you see fit, to support those who are supporting our children. Please think favorably about it. Please inform your community about this opportunity in front of us.
“I think our power to vote is our most precious First Amendment right. I hope all of you will vote. I’m going to vote early; I’ve never done that before. ”
Below are two videos from Morrison’s presentation.