CMS Superintendent's Report Provides New Insights
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox presented board members with a much-anticipated report that included data able to be used in mapping out future student assignments and school construction.
Tensions ran high when suburban town leaders in four municipalities - Mint Hill, Huntersville, Cornelius and Matthews - were given the green light to operate their own charters as an answer to perceived overcrowding. CMS, in turn, gave them a lower priority for new schools in the future.
Now, the two sides are trying to work together. Wednesday's report was the first step.
CMS officials are working with municipal leaders through the new Municipal Education Advisory Committee (MEAC), which includes representatives from the district and municipalities.
The report provides MEAC with in-depth information on all 175 district schools, including age and location of school buildings, student enrollment and where students live in relation to their assigned school. For example, it revealed that of Cornelius' Hough High School, just 47 percent live in Cornelius, 17 percent reside in Davidson and another 30 percent in Huntersville.
The report also provides detailed information on which schools are overcrowded and which are underutilized.
Wilcox made it clear at the beginning of his presentation that his report does not call for a reassignment of students or address the concerns of the current plan.
"Some say the plan didn’t go far enough, others say it went too far. This report doesn’t address those points,” he said.
Akeshia Craven-Howell, associate superintendent for student assignment gave a rundown of CMS’s elementary schools. Of the 84 in Charlotte, 51 have more teachers than classrooms and only 20 have less than the recommended 12 square feet per student.
School board chair Mary McCray was quick to say the report is intended to provide facts only for the joint committee to use. It contains no recommendations.
“There are no votes tonight, next week, next month or next year,” McCray said. “We asked our superintendent to provide a detailed analysis of ideas, suggestions, concerns and other items that members of our community has talked about over the past few months. This board is not making any changes to our current student assignment plan.”
Huntersville Mayor Pro Tem Melinda Bales attended the meeting and says the report was needed and what she expected.
“There are some questions I still have and info I’d still like to gather, but this is the beginning, infant stages, there will be time for that in the future,” Bales said.
Matthews Mayor Paul Bailey says he thinks the report will result in better discussions when the joint committee gets underway.
“It’s a good start to MEAC and providing them with info they need to begin their discussions and move forward with positive reinforcement for the board as far as an advisory committee is concerned,” Bailey said.
Wilcox says the report provides all parties with the information they did not have before.
The advisory committee will hold its first meeting in early December.