CMS meets with county, wants $805M bond on November ballot

by: Elsa Gillis Updated:

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg School’s superintendent Ann Clark presented the Board of Education's $800 million bond request to County Commissioners on Monday.

But it seems that getting it approved will be an uphill battle.  The money would be used to update and renovate old facilities and build new schools.

County Commissioners didn't deny the reality of aging facilities and overcrowded schools, but questioned whether the bond money would fix the district's problems.

"The notion of, if we don't make the investment, we're going to be in trouble. We've made the investment, and we're in trouble," Commissioner Jim Puckett said.  "Maybe we oughta not be talking about $798 million, maybe we need to be talking about the seven schools that are critical, critical needs that you identified...be taken care of before anything else happens."

"I'm willing to work around the 798 (million), but I will tell you even at this early date, I have gotten a pile full of emails from people all over Mecklenburg County telling me don't vote for the bond. The reason? Because they're scared about Phase 2," Commissioner Bill James said.

Phase 2 of the Student Assignment Plan is a separate issue, but unpopular among many parents.  Many commissioners expressed concern that the money would go to K-8 schools, a model many don't think is working.

"Maybe we need to get our message out there in a smarter package in terms of marketing, but there is no denying that we need the money," CMS Board member Ruby Jones said.

Sanyie Wilson, a student member for the CMS Board of Education, was emotional and fought for support.

"Everyone says the children are our future. We're supposed to focus on them and the children don't have pencils in their art classes and don't have places to sit at lunch,” she said. “They're wedged in these classrooms and they're getting left behind."

Observing was incoming Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox, who said he wants to learn more about the community's desires and review the current maintenance plans for schools.

"I'm not sure right now we need more money, but I can tell you for sure the absence of money is something the school system can't deal with, we have tremendous growth, we do have aging facilities,” Wilcox said.

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