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CMS Boundary Shifts For 2022 Include Controversial South Meck/Myers Park Changes

Waddell Language Academy will return to its original status as a high school in 2022.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Waddell Language Academy will return to its original status as a high school in 2022.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will get an update on four new schools opening in August of 2022, including a proposal that has some South Mecklenburg High parents worried about the status of their language program.

Olympic High relief school under construction.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Olympic High relief school under construction.

Two new high schools are slated to open in southwest Charlotte that year. One, on York Road in Mecklenburg County's southwestern tip, will be a neighborhood schooldesigned to relieve crowding at Olympic High.

The other will take the place of Waddell Language Academy, about 11 miles closer in on Nations Ford Road. It was built as a high school about 20 years ago, then converted to a K-8 language immersion school during the Great Recession. After renovations to restore Waddell for high school use, it's slated to become a magnet school, with the programs to be determined.

CMS hasn't released details of its plans, but the South Mecklenburg High School PTSA website says one plan calls for moving the world languages magnet program from South Meck to Waddell. The PTSA says that would move about 700 of the school's 3,200 students. Meanwhile, CMS would redraw boundaries to move some students from Myers Park High, which has about 3,600 students, to South Meck.

The South Meck PTSA site says parents are worried that the language program won't be as strong at the new school and that non-magnet students at South Meck will lose access to language classes.

Staci McBride, who chairs South Meck's School Improvement Team, said Monday the proposed changes would reduce racial and socioeconomic diversity at her school. "Shifting these 700 kids out and shifting in 500-plus predominantly white non-Hispanic students into our school will dramatically disrupt the balance that we have achieved," she said.

And she said it makes little sense to start reassigning students now, with more change looming when another new high school opens in Ballantyne in 2024. With a districtwide assignment review also starting next year, McBride says half of South Meck’s students could be reassigned.

"That’s going to tear apart the fabric of our school," she said. "There’s no way you can retain any sense of stability or culture or anything else if you’re shifting 50% or more of your population in and out in that short of a period of time."

The other new schools are a neighborhood elementary school on Idlewild Road in Matthews and a new elementary magnet school that will be in the renovated Lincoln Heights building. The Matthews school could cause boundary changes at several nearby schools.

Tuesday's agenda includes a report on the latest plans for all four schools, followed by a public hearing. By Monday afternoon, about two dozen speakers had signed up. Others can do so by emailing Nicole1.kelly@cms.k12.nc.us by noon Tuesday.

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Updated: May 24, 2021 at 7:17 PM EDT
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.