The only thing constant is change, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is no stranger to change. Huge budget cuts are forcing the school board and executives to think outside the box, but the new plans have been met with resistance from the public. Whether you listen to the radio, read the paper, or watch local TV news, it’s clear that citizens of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County have misconceptions about the proposed school consolidations and closings.
CMS practiced poor planning by opening two new schools this year and proposing to close more than a dozen.
The two high schools that were opened this year were funded by the 2007 bonds. The schools were opened in high-growth areas of the county, where existing schools were severely over-crowded. Most of the schools that are slated for closing or consolidating are in areas of Charlotte that aren’t experiencing dramatic growth. These schools are not operating at capacity; therefore money may be saved by consolidating facilities, most of which are in need of capital investment. Other schools are habitual low-performers which, despite given extra resources and opportunities, are producing high drop-outs rates and low test scores. CMS executives always plan ahead to the best of their ability but there is no crystal ball that forecasts when the economy will suffer.
CMS doesn’t want to hear public opinion and doesn’t take community interests into consideration when making decisions.
The public has always been invited to address the CMS Board at monthly meetings. There is no limit to the number of people who can speak. The board members are elected by the public to represent their interests by district, plus there are at-large members who represent the entire county. Contact information for each member is published in numerous places including the CMS website. Board members and CMS executives make themselves available to answer phone call and emails, even after hours. CMS has held six public forums on this round of the Comprehensive Review alone. The “Guiding Principles” recently adopted by the Board were modified because of public feedback from similar forums this summer
As in any news story, it’s important to get the facts and hear both sides of the story before forming an opinion.
Visit http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe/Pages/contacts.aspx for CMS Board Members’ contact information.