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CMS Begins Planning For School Bond Vote in 2023

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
The 2017 bonds paid for a new building for Montclaire Elementary that opened this school year.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is starting to study its construction needs to prepare for a school bond referendum in 2023.

Voters approved $922 million for school construction and renovation in 2017. And while many of those projects are still being built or designed, consultant Dennis LaCaria says it’s time to think ahead.

"For all intents and purposes we’ll be out of money in 2024," he told a board committee Thursday.

In an update presented to the panel, LaCaria said four of the 2017 bond projects are finished. Eleven are under construction and scheduled to open this fall or in 2022. The remaining 14 projects are in the design or "pre-planning" stages. An addition to South Mecklenburg High is the last 2017 project scheduled for completion, in 2025.

LaCaria said less land will be available as Mecklenburg County keeps developing: "I don’t think we’re ever going to find another 70-acre green field site in Mecklenburg County to build a suburban-model high school again."

Another consideration, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic: Are classrooms healthy and conducive to learning? He said some older schools, such as Bruns Avenue and Beverly Woods elementary schools, have rooms with no access to sunlight or outside air.

"You look at a classroom and say, you know, 'There’s no windows in here,' that’s a problem," he said.

The full board will get an update on capital projects at Tuesday's meeting. LaCaria says CMS will hold public engagement sessions in the fall and the board could consider a project list early next year.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.