CMS Policy Change Stops School Construction In Towns Granted Power To Create Charters

Aug 29, 2018

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education approved a measure Tuesday night that would effectively stop the district from building schools in Matthews, Mint Hill, Huntersville, and Cornelius. Those are the towns that asked lawmakers to allow them to create their own charters and spend property tax on them – and were granted that power.

CMS leaders had hinted this may be a possibility earlier this year. The measure does give the towns the chance to get back on the district’s school construction list, if they agree to a 15-year moratorium on launching charters.

"We cannot invest in a community, if we don’t know what the school landscape will be. We’ll certainly invest in a communities if we’re not put in a position where we’re essentially competing with them. It’s just not good financial planning on our part," said board member Carol Sawyer.

The measure also directs the superintendent to look into the possibility of re-assigning students in those towns to schools located only within the town boundaries. It would also create an advisory committee comprised of representatives of the city of Charlotte and the county’s six towns.

"I know for a fact this isn’t how I go about building partnerships," said Sean Strain, who was the only board member to vote against it.

He also said he’d only seen the measure a few hours before. It was a last minute addition to the board’s agenda. Rhonda Cheek was not at the meeting, but tweeted she would have voted against it too. 

In an email, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett called the measure "a thinly concealed practice of systematic denial of proper school facilities” in the suburban towns.