As of March 1st 2010, executive staff and senior managers at Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools are not allowed to use CMS vehicles for any travel between home and work. Prior to this date, these staff members had been allowed to drive the vehicles to their homes after work hours and keep them there. Even though these vehicles were allowed to be driven home, they were not to be driven for any use other than official CMS business. This benefit had also previously been taxed.
Employees who drive the vehicles are mainly those who do not spend their entire day working in their offices, but are expected to travel to different schools, construction sites, and other CMS and local government offices. The fleet of vehicles is made up of mostly of late models. Examples include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Stratus, and Ford Taurus.
The decision to restrict the use of CMS vehicles came from a combination of concerns over the tighter budget this coming school year, and the appropriate use of taxpayer money. It has not been proven that any of the employees were abusing the privilege or driving the cars for non-work-related travel, but some members of the public and even former CMS board members have expressed concern for the opportunity for mis-use. Employees were and still are on the honor system for the use of vehicles.
Chief Operating Officer Hugh Hattabaugh told staff that CMS vehicles must be left on CMS property at the conclusion of the workday. This means that these staffers will drive their personal cars either to their office or to another CMS property, like schools or Learning Community offices where their work cars could be parked overnight.
Some members of the public are concerned for the safety of the cars. Cars are more vulnerable to break-ins when parked unattended as opposed to an employee's driveway. Repairing or replacing a CMS vehicle would come out of the already tight budget. It is not uncommon for senior staff members to work late into the night while attending community, local government, and school board meetings; therefore the safety of employees could be a concern as well.
It is not clear how much money the district will save by not letting employees drive home. Some employees may opt out of using a CMS vehicle altogether. They would then be able to bill the district for mileage put on their personal cars for work-related travel, which could cost the district more in the long run.
Select Building Services employees and Transportation Services technicians are on call 24/7 and will therefore be exempt from the new rule. CMS police officers are also on call 24/7 and will also be exempt, which may come in handy for all those employees going to their vehicles, or for the CMS vehicles that will be sitting unattended in various parking lots overnight.