Opinions Run For and Against CMS K-8 Schools

CHARLOTTE, NC — Choice for some, but not for all.

That’s what many parents are saying about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ options for several K-8 schools in the district.

Critics say they’re not safe, don’t perform and are only used in economically challenged areas.

CMS combined some elementary and middle schools during the recession as a cost saving measure, as charlotte took an economic hit. Now, as the district looks at shuffling kids around through student assignment, parents with students in the 12 CMS K-8 schools are split on what to do. Some want to keep things the same. Others want change. But they all want options. They want choice.

“I really don’t want them to break it up,” says Cynthia Hayes,  Thomasboro Academy Parent Connection President. “K-5, I want them to keep it K-8. It’s the consistency that I love, with the teachers and the students, at Thomasboro Academy.”

“I believe the children have a lot more room and space and, you know, a lot more focus can be on the K-5 at that one particular school, or schools,” says Wesley Fisher, who has a child at Bruns Academy K-8. He’d like to see the school return to K-5.

CMS is considering three scenarios:
– All the K-8’s would stay except Bruns Academy, which wants to be a traditional k-thru-5.
– All the K-8’s would be broken up, with Wilson and Spaugh re-opened and renovated as middle schools.
– A third option would leave Thomasboro and Ashley Park as K-8’s. Others would be broken up, with middle school students sent to Druid Hills and Westerly Hills.

“We all need to have better choices,” says Hayes. “For our children. For the schools as well. Not just these couple of choices they’ve given us.”

Advocates say the K-8’s are making progress, despite the economically challenged neighborhoods they serve.

“Honestly, they should keep it K-8,” says former Berryhill Academy student Devonte Long. “Because when I was in 8th grade, we read to the kindergartners and pre-K, and all of that.”

Critics say the data doesn’t support K-8’s, and the district isn’t pushing them in other areas.

“If you’re going to do it, do it evenly, do it across the board,” says Fisher. “You know, because you have a cluster in one area. And it looks like we’re going backwards.”

Many who spoke out at Thursday night’s CMS board meeting are concerned because any plans for K-8’s would go into effect in the 2018-19 school year, when the new student assignments start.