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Tonight, Superintendent Peter Gorman will reveal his 2010-11 spending plan for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Don’t look for big surprises. He and the school board have spent two months hashing out options for budget cuts, from teacher layoffs to eliminating middle-school sports.

But confusion and controversy are likely.

Confusion, because budgeting for public education in North Carolina is basically backwards. Instead of deciding how to spend the money they have, local officials must map out spending plans before they know how much they’ll get from the county and state.

That means all numbers are informed guesses, which change as the folks who tally tax revenues make new projections. Lately, those projections have been grim.

Gorman is dealing with the uncertainty by presenting a multiple-choice budget. The basic request will seek more county money – about $16 million more, based on information presented so far. But there will be other scenarios, with the worst outlining state and county cuts totaling more than $70 million, with hundreds of jobs eliminated.