Save Money in this Sunday's paper

comments

Mecklenburg plan: $300M in bonds for CMS, CPCC

More Information

  • About CMS construction plan
  • CMS bonds and budget

    The CMS board will hold a public hearing on the superintendent’s proposed 2013-14 operating budget Tuesday. The board is also to vote on a 10-year plan for construction and renovation, as well as a request for 2013 bonds. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St. To speak at the hearing, call 980-343-5139 by noon Tuesday or sign up on site.


  • More information

    CMS top projects

    These are the school district’s top-priority projects that would total roughly $300 million, according to the 10-year plan presented last month.

    1. Oakhurst/Starmount: Reopen two closed schools as elementary schools. $5.9 million.

    2. Olympic High: Expansion/renovation. $9 million.

    3. Alexander Middle: Replace building. $30.7 million.

    4. New school: K-8 neighborhood/magnet school in east Charlotte. $29.4 million.

    5. Northwest School of the Arts: Renovation. $12.4 million.

    6. New school: Small, selective high school on a CPCC campus. $5.9 million.

    7. New school: New preK-8 school in west Charlotte. $29.4 million.

    8. Nations Ford Elementary: Replace building. $19.4 million.

    9. Myers Park High: Renovation. $22.2 million.

    10. East Mecklenburg High: Renovation. $12.7 million.

    11. PreK-8 upgrades: Improvements to Ashley Park, Bruns, Byers, Druid Hills, Reid Park and Westerly Hills. $24.7 million.

    12. South Mecklenburg High: Renovation. $18.4 million.

    13. Career-tech improvements: Garinger, Independence, North Meck and West Meck high schools. $8.6 million.

    14. Davidson Elementary: Convert to a K-8 school. $7.6 million.

    15. New school: K-8 magnet in southern Ballantyne. $29.4 million.

    16. Berryhill preK-8: Replace building. $29.4 million.



County officials say they’re willing to put $300 million in bonds on the November ballot, but that spending must be split between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Central Piedmont Community College.

That poses a dilemma. CPCC and CMS both have growing enrollment and need to keep up with educational technology. Both are vital to the region’s economic health.

And both say they could use every penny of the $300 million — and then some.

Last week CPCC leaders presented a $430 million building plan to county leaders. On Tuesday, the CMS board will vote on 10-year, $2 billion list of projects and try to decide how many to carve off for a 2013 request.

“The message that people need to understand is that the need is greater than the money that’s available,” said county Finance Director Dena Diorio.

County commissioners will decide in June how to divide the $300 million between the school district and the community college. On Tuesday, Diorio will explain the county’s ranking system to the school board before members vote on a 2013 bond request.

Some school board members have voiced frustration that the county can reorder CMS priorities, using a scale that is also used to rate the urgency of park, library and jail construction. They say it doesn’t always reflect educational priorities.

“We don’t want to put something out where we get the community’s hopes up and we get these schools’ hopes up” only to have the county revise the list, CMS Chairman Mary McCray said Monday.

The bond vote would be the first in six years, but it won’t signal a return to pre-recession spending, when the county was putting bonds on the ballot every two years and borrowing more than $200 million a year for CMS alone. When the economy flagged, county officials scaled back dramatically to control debt payments.

Now, county staff is proposing a $100 million annual bond limit, with three years of CMS and CPCC projects on the November ballot.

That means tough choices about which schools get improvements in the near future. When CMS unveiled its 10-year plan last month, with rankings of 142 projects, officials talked about getting the top 25 onto a 2013 bond, at a cost of about $400 million. Late last week, Superintendent Heath Morrison talked about focusing on the top 17 or 18, which would top $300 million.

When CMS held a public hearing on the construction list this month, only a handful turned out to speak. Those who did, including supporters of West Charlotte High and Collinswood Language Academy, argued that their schools should be higher on the priority list.

Diorio has asked CMS and CPCC to bring no more than $300 million in projects to the county, understanding that neither group is likely to get the full amount. Even projects that make the bond list may not begin until 2016.

Helms: 704-358-5033 Twitter: @anndosshelms
Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more



Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email local@charlotteobserver.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.

  Read more


Quick Job Search
Salary Databases
Your 2 Cents
Share your opinion with our Partners
Learn More
CharlotteObserver.com