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Foxx: Streamlined government may help schools

A consolidation between some city and county departments may be in the near future and it could help the school system, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said today.

Consolidation of certain departments, including permitting and government communications, between the city and the county may be beneficial by saving local government money and making it more efficient, Foxx said at a media briefing. If those departments are combined, he said, the city and county may be able to move toward a full consolidation. Foxx said he would prefer such a consolidation, but acknowledged that it would be difficult.

Despite the difficulties, Foxx said a full consolidation would benefit for the school system.

“The county uses 48 percent of its budget to support the schools,” Foxx said. “We could give that revenue to the school system, along with the debt load, and give them the ability to build its own revenue source.”

Foxx said the structure in which the school system is left to design its budget without having control over revenue is a fundamental problem, one that becomes more serious when considering the state of education nationally. The U.S. is 27th worldwide for graduation in math and science programs and 48th in kindergarten through 12th-grade math and science education, he said.

“We have a national emergency in education,” Foxx said. “And if we have a national emergency, we have a local emergency.”

Foxx said that while he sympathizes with the community and shares its concerns about school closings — Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is planning to close eight schools in a move to reduce costs — he supports the decision to shutter schools rather than fire teachers.

“If I had to choose between an excellent instructional experience and excellent school facilities, I’d choose instruction,” he said.

Caitlin Coakley can be reached at caitlin.coakley@mecktimes.com.

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