Mar 4, 2024 - News

CMSD CEO Warren Morgan had a tough week

An illustration of CMSD CEO Warren Morgan with a raincloud over his head

Photo: Sam Allard/Axios; Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Warren Morgan has been CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for 32 weeks, and last week may have been his toughest yet.

Why it matters: CMSD is facing a $168 million budget deficit, caused by the expiration of pandemic-era aid, and it has resulted in cuts to student-desired programs.

State of play: Morgan is getting criticized on multiple fronts:

  • The Cleveland Teachers Union accused him of "manufacturing" the deficit drama on the eve of contract negotiations.
  • Cleveland City Council is angered by his unilateral decision to partially plug the budget hole with $17 million from a MacKenzie Scott gift previously earmarked for student opportunities.
  • And the local media is lambasting his decisions and forcing him to explain them.

The latest: At a heated meeting last week, the board of education approved a budget that calls for more than $130 million in cuts.

The other side: The board's lone dissenting vote was Robert Heard, who said CMSD owed it to students to use the balance of the Scott funds for out-of-school experiences, as originally intended.

Friction point: Twelve city council members authored a letter to Morgan, demanding that he return those funds to the so-called "Get More Opportunities" program, in which students voted on expenditures and which had been used for things like college visits.

  • "It is unacceptable to retract a promised resource for students and the community," it read.

What they're saying: Morgan sat down for an exclusive interview with WKYC after the board meeting and admitted his decision regarding the Scott funds was "a miss on my part."

  • He said it was "100% likely" that a repurposed version of the "Get More Opportunities" program would be developed in the future.

Yes, but: CMSD later clarified that no decision has been made as to how much money will be invested in the revamped program.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to say that Warren Morgan has been CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for 32 weeks, not 42, and that CMSD will eliminate funding for all after-school programs run by third parties, not that the programs will be eliminated.

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