Lake Norman residents consider 'Mex-it' strategy over $1 billion CMS request

by: Mark Barber Updated:

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - Board members in Cornelius are preparing to discuss Charlotte-Mecklenburg School’s bond requests on Tuesday night.

The bond package will appear on the ballot in November when voters will be asked to approve more than $1 billion in CMS projects.

[LINK: CMS Bond information]

Some Lake Norman leaders are fighting the proposal because they would barely get any help, even though they pay a large chunk of the county's taxes.

Under the bond package, East Mecklenburg, West Mecklenburg and South Mecklenburg high schools would all get millions in renovations and expansions, but North Mecklenburg High School would not receive any help.

In fact, the school is still trying to clear land for more portable classrooms at the crowded school.

"It just doesn't seem fair,” Huntersville Mayor John Aneralla said.

He worries their schools won't be able keep up with all the students who are moving to one of the fastest growing areas in the state. 

"I've counted over 6,000 home developments already under construction right now," he said.

The CMS bond package, worth nearly $1 billion, includes 29 projects that would renovate and create schools in the southern, eastern and western parts of the county.   

[READ MORE: CMS to ask voters to approve nearly $1 billion bond package]

Lake Norman would see less than 5 percent of the billion dollar package. Their only improvement would be a new K-8 school in Huntersville.

Some school board members said the improvements are disproportionate because CMS is trying to help schools with lower scores.

"They really need that money because the community, they don't have the community that will help out like Lake Norman," one voter, who asked to remain anonymous, said. She didn't want to give her name because she said other voters in the area would disapprove of her sentiments.

While some voters plan to vote for the bond, others like the idea of  'Mex-it,' or a Mecklenburg exit from the school district.

This isn't the first time towns have fought to keep their tax dollars closer to home.

Channel 9 has reported for years that towns like Matthews, Mint Hill and Ballantyne have all considered breaking away from CMS.

[PAST COVERAGE: Matthews approves resolution, prepared to break away from CMS]

"I know Matthews has looked into what to do about or how do you get out of CMS, so I'm kind of letting them lead the charge on that,” Aneralla said

"Trying to get a new county is going to make fighting the tolls look like a game of checkers, but things like this certainly add fuel to that fire," Cornelius Town Board candidate Kurt Naas said. 

In the 2007 bond package, District 1 received the most money, equaling a total of $110 million, according to County Commissioner Pat Cotham.

In 2013, they received the fourth highest amount at $42 million. This year, they would receive the lowest amount of funds.

It is important to note that District 1 also includes parts of the county that are not in Lake Norman, so the numbers may not precisely reflect the benefits specific to Huntersville, Cornelius and Davidson.

"Having new and renovated schools worthy of teachers and students is an asset to any community,” CMS said in a statement. “Families in the north have benefited from past bonds. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is a unified city-county district. What benefits one area benefits the whole. CMS is not seeking to make the political case to voters, instead we want to inform the community about how the bond will benefit students."

Board members will hold an informational meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cornelius Town Hall about the bond package for all the candidates running for office.

There will be another meeting for the candidates in Davidson on Wednesday night.

The towns of Cornelius and Davidson are still discussing the bonds, so they haven't announced if they'll formally oppose it yet.

Huntersville's town board has already voted unanimously to try to defeat the bond package at the polls in November. 

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