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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools gets $922 million bond boost

North Carolina State University

Last November, a record-high $922 million in bonds was approved for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, passing with a vote of 72.69%. The bond’s approval paves the way for an additional 1,250 new or renovated classrooms for over 20,000 students. This will address the issue of overcrowding, and will give more students better access to some of the district’s top-notch programs.

This is the largest bond referendum in the history of Mecklenburg, and the second largest in the state of North Carolina. County officials are now granted permission to borrow funds that will allow them to build ten new schools, replace outdated buildings in seven existing ones, and cover expenses for additions and renovations in others.

Confidence in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The bond votes signal community confidence in CMS, representing trust in the school board to do what’s necessary towards the improvement of school facilities. The board recently finished a student assignment revamp and hired Clayton Wilcox as superintendent in the summer of 2017.

Voters in Mecklenburg tend to show strong support for school bonds – the last referendum in 2013, which was for $295 million was given 74 percent approval. The last time bonds failed to push through was in 2005, when 57 percent of voters disapproved.

Last year, a joint effort led by several business and civic leaders called the Vote Yes Campaign raised over $370,000, which exceeded the group’s initial target of $300,000 by a sizable margin.

Slight opposition from other areas

In the northern suburbs, the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce and the area’s county and school board member expressed opposition to the referendum, saying the package will only have a minimal impact in the rapidly growing region.

Some who disagreed with last year’s student assignment decisions also threatened to oppose the bonds. Following decades of increasing enrollment in CMS, numbers are now leveling off, with a significant portion of new enrollment in Mecklenburg as well as throughout North Carolina now going to charter schools.

Charter schools are under the administration of independent non-profit boards, which means they are unable to utilize public money towards new buildings or renovation expenses. This is possibly the main reason as to why families in those schools are less likely to support additional borrowing of funds towards CMS.

New schools

Below is a list of the new neighborhood schools that will be completed through the bond’s approval. Please take note that the names below are only based on the school’s location, and are not official names:

  • East elementary school – will relieve Idlewind, Windsor Park, and Winterfield
  • Mint Hill/Matthews elementary school – will relieve Piney Grove, Bain, and Lebanon Road
  • Northeast elementary school – will relieve Newell, Grier, and Hidden Valley
  • South elementary school – will relieve Hawk Ridge, Polo Ridge, and Elon Park
  • South high school – will relieve Ardrey Kell, South Meck, and ill accommodate additional students from Olympic and Myers Park
  • Southwest elementary school – will relieve Sterling, Steele Creek and Nations Ford
  • Southwest high school – will relieve Olympic High

A new school for special students will also be constructed, and is scheduled for completion in 2019. The school will accommodate the existing program for students with behavioral disabilities, which is currently housed in Lincoln Heights in north Charlotte.