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Families Urge CMS Board To Move Others To Ease Crowded Matthews School

Ann Doss Helms
Todd Fuller speaks in favor of moving students from the Beverly Crest neighborhood from Elizabeth Lane to Lansdowne Elementary.

Families zoned for Elizabeth Lane Elementary School made their cases in front of the school board Tuesday for why their neighborhoods should not be split off to ease crowding. 

Credit Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Elizabeth Lane Elementary School

Elizabeth Lane, in Matthews, is packed with more than 1,000 students and has no more land for mobile classrooms. However, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' 2017 bond package includes a $29 million expansion of nearby Lansdowne Elementary, which is designed to give Lansdowne students a new building and also relieve crowding at Elizabeth Lane by taking some of its students.

At Tuesday's school board meeting, about two dozen parents spoke about two CMS scenarios to redraw the zones. Each would move about 175 students from Elizabeth Lane to Lansdowne, which is about four miles away in southeast Charlotte.

"We all recoginze that Elizabeth Lane is overcrowded and that a solution needs to be found," said Gabriel Terejanu, one of those parents.

Terejanu lives in the Beverly Crest neighborhood, which would move to the Landsdowne zone in what CMS staff dubbed "Scenario Blue." Beverly Crest residents urged the board to vote for "Scenario Orange," which would instead move the Alexander Road community to Lansdowne.

CMS says both scenarios would increase diversity at Lansdowne, which has higher poverty and fewer white students than Elizabeth Lane. But Terejanu and other Beverly Crest residents said moving the Alexander Road community would do more to increase diversity. And they said it would do more to reduce crowding in the long run because there's more room for growth along Alexander Road.

Alexander Road community parents contested those arguments and said moving their kids to Lansdowne would significantly increase the commute, compared with a school that's in walking distance for some of their children. They urged the board to vote for Scenario Blue and move the Beverly Crest neighborhood.

The Lansdowne replacement school won't open until August 2021, and School Board Chair Elyse Dashew said the board will discuss the matter and vote at an unspecified future meeting.