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CMS asks $50,000 as starting bid for 46,000 clear book bags it decided not to use

Image from GovDeals.com of the backs Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is selling.
Image from GovDeals.com of the backpacks Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is selling.

Almost 46,000 clear backpacks that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bought but decided not to use went on the digital auction block Friday.

The starting bid is $50,000, a steep discount from the $442,000 CMS paid to buy them from a local Office Depot.

With a record number of guns showing up on campuses last school year, former Superintendent Earnest Winston announced he’d distribute the clear bags to all high school students and require their use.

They arrived in February, but the distribution was delayed when students and educators balked. That was followed by the discovery of hazardous chemical warning labels that are required in California. After Winston’s firing, interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh put the bags up for auction on a government surplus website.

Hattabaugh said at the time he doesn't believe there was a real danger from chemicals in the bags. California has strict requirements for providing notice about hazardous chemicals, even when they occur in very small amounts in products that aren't generally considered dangerous.

The auction notice on GovDeals.com notes that the manufacturer includes the warning labels because of the California requirement but they can be removed in the other states. It says CMS is selling 45,980 bags in boxes of 12 or 24 but is not breaking up the order. The bidder has to pick up the bags or arrange and pay for shipping.

Bidding ends July 18. Hattabaugh has said if CMS doesn’t get its asking price he’ll have to rethink what to do with the bags.

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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.