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CMS gives construction schedules for 12 school bond projects

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board got an updated schedule for 12 bond projects Tuesday. They're part of a $2.5 billion bond package voters approved in 2023, which will eventually cover 30 projects.
Ann Doss Helms
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board got an updated schedule for 12 bond projects Tuesday. They're part of a $2.5 billion bond package voters approved in 2023, which will eventually cover 30 projects.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials Tuesday updated the plans for building, replacing and renovating schools with the $2.5 billion in bonds that voters approved in 2023.

The bonds will cover 30 projects, and the first eight were identified shortly after the vote. At Tuesday’s school board meeting, CMS Planner Dennis LaCaria listed the next four projects the district will tackle, all scheduled for completion in August of 2028:

  • A new middle school on Stumptown Road in Huntersville. It will relieve crowding in northern schools, allow the district to add magnet seats in that part of the county, and take students from Davidson K-8 when that school is converted to an elementary school.
  • Replacement of Huntersville Elementary School with a new 45-classroom building.
  • Replacement of Beverly Woods Elementary with a new 45-classroom building.
  • Replacement of Berryhill K-8 School, which is west of the airport, with a 54-classroom school at a nearby location. The current site does not have access to water and sewer, forcing the school to rely on a well and septic system. The new site has not been determined.

LaCaria also updated the board on the first batch of projects, which involve changes at 12 schools.

  • A new middle school in south Charlotte is now scheduled to open in 2026, shifting students from Community House and Jay M. Robinson middle schools and Rea Farms K-8 School. The school board approved boundaries for the school last year, with the expectation that it would open in 2025. The Cato Farms land on Tom Short Road currently has houses on it, and LaCaria said rezoning has taken a year and a half.
  • Students from Sedgefield, which currently houses pre-K-2 students as part of a pairing with Dilworth Elementary, will move into the Dilworth building in August 2024. Renovations to Sedgefield will begin this summer, with pre-K-6 students from Park Road Montessori School moving when the new school year begins.
  • Marie G. Davis School is being renovated to house the CMS Montessori magnet program for grades 7-12, with occupancy expected in August 2025.
  • Construction of a new classroom wing at South Mecklenburg High, which will replace a 1958 building, is scheduled for completion in August 2027. Renovations at South Meck have been funded with 2017 and 2023 bonds.
  • Renovations at Northwest School of the Arts, which also involved 2017 and 2023 bonds, are scheduled for completion in 2026. In August 2025, Northwest’s middle school students are scheduled to move to a renovated First Ward, with University Park Elementary becoming a countywide elementary arts magnet.
  • Replacement of the Cotswold Elementary building on the same site in east Charlotte is scheduled for completion in August 2027. Cotswold students will move to Billingsville, which is paired with Cotswold, in August 2025 and stay through construction of the new Chantilly building. In 2027 all students will move to the new Cotswold building and Billingsville will become a pre-K-6 Montessori magnet. 
  • Replacement of old buildings at North Mecklenburg High has gotten preliminary site approval from the town of Huntersville. Completion is scheduled for August 2028.
  • Construction of a new Second Ward High in uptown Charlotte is in early planning stages. Opening of the school, which is expected to be a health science magnet, is expected in  August 2028.

That leaves 18 projects still waiting their turn in what’s supposed to be a seven-year time frame.
“There’s been a lot of work that’s gone on behind the scenes that (isn’t) necessarily related to stacking the bricks and the blocks,” LaCaria said. He said CMS put the most complex and costly projects — such as the new Second Ward High and the North Meck replacement — into the first batch to minimize the impact of inflation.

That means later projects should move quicker than some of the early ones, he said.

Board member Lenora Shipp voiced concern about how long it will take to build the third new middle school that’s part of the bond package, to be located in southwest Charlotte.

“Knowing the growth out in the southwest area … what are we looking at for how we’re going to support the needs out there when we have so many mobile units already?” she asked.

LaCaria said CMS had to figure out which projects would be realistic for the county’s 2024-25 capital budget. The southwest middle school could be part of the planning for this time next year, he said.

See Tuesday's presentation here and get the latest information on all 2023 bond projects at CMSbondconstruction.com.

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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.