CMS Will Meet with County on Bond Referendum

CHARLOTTE, NC — Remaking school boundaries. Integrating a new superintendent. And pushing for a desperately needed bond package. These are busy days for the CMS Board of Education.

The board is asking for almost $800 million dollars in funding, and a make-or-break meeting with Mecklenburg County commissioners is looming.

“Every day that goes by is one more day that the needs mount, and our students’ needs aren’t being met,” says CMS board member Eric Davis.

Facility needs have been stacking up over the years for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The 10-year capital investment plan runs $2 billion. The longer the district waits to start digging out of that hole, the more expensive it gets.

“Over 78 of our schools are over 50 years old,” says board member Elyse Dashew. “So we have some aging facilities that really need to be either renovated or torn down and replaced.”

And 78 schools are either at or over, capacity. There are 1,100 trailers serving as classrooms in the district, housing some 20,000 students. CMS asked the county for a bond last year, but commissioners balked, pushing the bond back to 2017.

“We’re one of the fastest growing regions in the country,” says Dashew. “Our district continues to grow. And so we’ve really got to catch up on building new schools to relieve overcrowding.”

CMS is requesting $798 million to build 10 new schools, replace five others, renovate 13 and add 4,000 seats in seven magnet schools.

Getting a bond referendum on the ballot to address the needs across the county is a vital part of CMS keeping its accreditation.

“The school system’s responsibility and the school board’s responsibility is to state the need,” says Davis. “And we’ve clearly stated that. And I’m hopeful that the county commissioners will support us.”

“I think they’re in a really good position to be strong partners with us in solving this problem and putting a bond on the referendum for the voters to approve in November,” adds Dashew.

There are additional capital needs not covered by the bond. A motion to add three schools to the list, including a new West Charlotte High School, was voted down during Tuesday night’s meeting.

The school board and county commissioners will meet Monday afternoon.