CHARLOTTE – A 2012-13 budget proposal from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh includes a three percent cost-of-living pay increase for all district employees.

Hattabaugh presented his budget recommendation to the Board of Education at its March 13 meeting. His $1.19 billion budget includes a request for an additional $27.5 million from Mecklenburg County, which would pay for the cost-of-living raise and $4.8 million in new initiatives for the district, most of which would decrease class sizes and add technology teachers at high schools.

“We believe that it is time to begin restoring some core areas in CMS,” Hattabaugh said, “so we are seeking an increase in local funding this year. After four years of steady academic improvement, last year our students’ performance on state tests declined in many areas and stayed flat in others. We believe that four years of cuts are beginning to damage our capacity as a public school district.”

Hattabaugh said since 2008, the district has reduced or redirected $212 million, an amount equal to about one-fifth of the district’s annual operating budget.

“We have reduced our workforce by nearly 2,000 positions,” he said. “We have closed 11 schools. We have used shuttle and common stops to save millions of dollars and altered school bell schedules to make savings in transportation. We have shifted to our students and their families the costs of academic tests in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. We have asked our families to fund athletics by paying fees. We have reduced costs of utilities by nearly $2 million through careful management and conservation practices.”

During those four years of cuts, he said, enrollments continued to grow and utility, retirement and benefit costs kept rising. The district expects benefits and other costs, along with enrollment growth, to drive costs up to $77.9 million for the 2012-13 school year. Hattabaugh said he plans to ask the county for $355.9 million, a $27.5 million increase from the amount provided by the county for the 2011-12 year.

“We believe our request for increased funding is reasonable and urgent,” Hattabaugh said. “We do not want to lose the ground we have gained since 2006, and last year’s state test scores suggest we have reached a tipping point.”