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Seven Charlotte Stories To Watch In 2018

Jeff Cravotta
WFAE reporter David Boraks keeping an eye (and ear) on the news.

Sure, 2017 was a big year in news. But what can we expect in the new year? WFAE News Director Greg Collard and Assistant News Director Lisa Worf highlight the Charlotte stories to watch in 2018:

7. CMS Student Assignment

Some of the biggest changes to CMS’s student assignment plan take place in the fall. Among them, merging three pairs of schools to help create more socio-economic balance. Needless to say, these changes have stirred both concern and excitement. We’ll be watching to see how these schools come together.

Charlotte School of Law
Credit Davie Hinshaw / The Charlotte Observer
The Charlotte Observer

6. Charlotte School of Law

The school is closed, but there are still several lawsuits: some former students are still trying to get their loans forgiven, and those who transferred or graduated are figuring out what the future holds for them.

Credit David Boraks / WFAE
Work was nearly complete on the Blue Line's McCullough station on North Tryon Street, near Harris Boulevard.

5. Blue Line Extension / Opening of I-77 Tolls

Big changes in transportation are coming. The rail extension from UNC Charlotte to Uptown is scheduled to open in March. And near the end of the year, the toll-lanes on I-77 are scheduled to open. Will criticism of the tolls turn out to be justified, or will they end up being an efficient way to reduce congestion?

Credit Alex Olgin / WFAE News
WFAE file photo

4. Cardinal Innovations Healthcare.

Tom Bullock and Alex Olgin have covered the Cardinal scandal extensively in 2017. It will continue to be a big story in 2018 as the state’s takeover of the behavioral health organization plays out. Cardinal is big deal to a lot of people: It administers $682 million to Medicaid recipients in 20 counties in need of mental health treatment, developmental disability services, and addiction treatment. As we gear up for this continued coverage, I highly recommended reading this FAQ about the Cardinal saga.

Credit WFAE

3. Affordable Housing / Upward Mobility

As the Charlotte region grows at a rapid pace, a segment of the city’s existing population is moving nowhere. Much has been discussed about the 2014 Harvard study that shows people born into poverty in Charlotte are the least likely among 50 cities to someday emerge from poverty. It doesn’t appear to be getting easier, either. As the city booms, rents are skyrocketing. The average rent, $1,115 according to Real Data, jumped 6 percent in the past year.

The city says there’s a need for 34,000 affordable housing units. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force calls it a “crisis.” Last year, City Council announced a goal of increasing its affordable housing stock by 5,000 over three years. The city’s about halfway there. Is the problem being addressed as if it’s a crisis?

Credit Jayron32 of English Wikipedia
NC Legislature

2. 2018 NC Legislative Elections with Court-Approved Redistricting

Courts ruled the 2011 redistricting plan include illegal racial gerrymanders. In the meantime, the Republicans gained a veto-proof “supermajority” in the Statehouse. What will be the makeup of the General Assembly under new court-approved districts – and what will that mean for the Cooper administration?

Credit The Carolina Panthers

1. The Sale of the Carolina Panthers / NFL Investigation of Jerry Richardson

In the eyes of many, the Panthers' arrival in the 1990s made Charlotte a major league city. The team is only committed to Charlotte through the 2019 season. Will a new ownership group be committed to Charlotte? Will it make demands of local governments for stadium improvements – or possibly a new stadium – to remain in Charlotte? Meanwhile, what will the NFL’s investigation of Richardson and the Panthers’ workplace environment reveal? We'll search for these answers (and more) in 2018.

As we cap off 2017, WFAE's producers and programs share their most memorable moments of the year. Find each of our Best of 2017 posts at http://wfae.org/term/2017-favorites.