House Bill 514 does have the support of Mint Hill elected officials, says the town’s Mayor Ted Biggers. The legislation would allow Matthews and Mint Hill to create their own charter school, with preference given to students in the two towns.
At last month’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board meeting, Chair Mary McCray said they were told that Mint Hill officials did not ask for the legislation and would not support it. Biggers says a CMS official asked Mint Hill’s town manager about HB514 and thinks the reply was misunderstood.
“I think his comment back was that we have not officially supported or voiced that we did not support it either way and somehow that got turned into that we did not support the bill,” Biggers said. “We at no time said we did not support it.”
Biggers says there is still a fear in the community that CMS could at some point bus large numbers of Mint Hill students to other areas in their efforts to diversify schools. Mint Hill has a K-8 charter school. Students are chosen by a lottery and Biggers says many Mint Hill students who apply do not get in.
“Our K-8 program runs a waiting list that varied between 1,000 and 2,000 students a year, so there’s not nearly enough capacity in our one charter school to handle all of the applicants that apply," Biggers said. "This would give our students a guaranteed seat in a Mint Hill School.”
The proposed charter school would be built to accommodate only about 700 students. HB 514 still has to pass the Senate. Biggers and officials from Matthews say if it is approved they will not immediately apply for a charter. Some say it would be leverage over CMS to keep the town’s issues on the table.
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