Controversial CMS student assignment vote divides board members

by: Elsa Gillis Updated:

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - After a nearly seven-hour meeting full of passionate debate, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board passed phase two of the student assignment plan, approving all student assignment boundary change proposals.

The meeting did not end until 12:30 a.m. after school board members listened to parents before painstakingly going through each plan to change 75 school boundaries.

The board voted on each boundary proposal one by one.

[CLICK HERE for detailed breakdown of changes by school]

In the end, all 14 proposals passed, but not without controversy.

One board member raised a motion to delay the entire vote until the next board meeting. Thelma Byers-Bailey said the changes were coming so fast that parents did not have enough time to give their input.

Four other board members agreed, but the motion failed 5-4, leaving some parents even more frustrated.

Prior to the vote, parents addressed the board during a nearly three-hour public hearing where some parents praised the plan.

"Thank you for all your hard work you've put into this plan. For listening to our community and not being afraid to revise the original proposal," said parent Robin Lipe.

But other some parents, like those who go to Westerly Hills Academy, are worried. Channel 9 went by the west Charlotte school on Thursday after the vote. It is one of several K-8 schools that will turn into an elementary school.

"My daughter is quiet. Going from here to a larger middle school will not be good for her," said a Westerly Hills Academy parent.

Another controversial change would create neighborhood zones for magnet schools, such as University Park. Parents and students said Wednesday night that it could hurt a successful school.

"Please make sure that the kids that you are sending to my school love the arts as much as I do," said first-grader Tahara.

CMS superintendent Ann Clark worked to reassure them that there is still time.

“We've got all summer, all next academic year, and the following summer to provide professional development to get our facilities ready,” Clark said.

The changes won't go into effect until the 2018-2019 school.

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