Today is a day that has been anticipated by students, parents, and staff alike since the last day of school in June. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools opened its doors to an estimated 135,000 K-12 students on the first day of the 2010-2011 school year. That number is up from last year.
However, due to last year's budget crunch the district opened with many fewer teachers which increased class size by 1-3 students. In addition to the 500 teachers who lost jobs through a reduction in force (RIF), another 400 resigned or retired over the summer. This has left CMS scrambling to fill positions. Some people are concerned about the effects on their child's classroom, while others are confident in the ability of quality teachers to more than meet the challenge.
There are a couple of other noticeable differences this school year as well.
Students who attend “full magnet” schools will no longer have individual bus stops. Instead, new “Shuttle Stops” are being utilized where groups of students are dropped off by parents, on CMS property, and bused to their school. CMS personnel and security monitor the stops in the morning and afternoons. Shuttle Stops not only save the district about $3.5 million in transportation costs, but also keep students from waiting at individual, unsupervised stops at very early hours of the morning. Parents have a “3 Strike Rule” pertaining to pick up: if they are late picking up 3 times, their child is no longer allowed transportation.
One of the most talked about differences this school year is the opening of 2 new high schools; Rocky River in Mint Hill and W.A. Hough in Cornelius. Each will only have grades 9-11 for the 2010-2011 school year, so as not to uproot seniors from their graduating high schools. This year's junior class will become next year's senior class and the schools will become grades 9-12. Rocky River and W.A. Hough have the standard 100 classrooms but are overall smaller than the previous generations of high schools. Students and staff both seem excited about the chance of a fresh start and being a part of a new school.
The next 180 days will no doubt have their share of trials, but will hopefully also have their accomplishments. The administration is poised to make many more changes this year and the citizens of Charlotte-Mecklenburg are eager to see the results.