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Rain slows CMS in moving mobile classrooms

The heavy rain that was responsible for flash flooding and other problems this summer has created some headaches for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials, too.

Soggy ground has interfered with the job of moving mobile classrooms, and while crews have managed to erase much of the backlog, a few units won’t be ready for the start of classes Aug. 26.

Meanwhile, the process of hiring teachers appears to be on schedule. Human resources officials told the school board Tuesday night they have 157.5 vacant teaching positions for the 2013-14 academic year. That appears to be in line with last year, which was among CMS’ smoothest starts in recent years.

Mobile classrooms are being moved at 20 schools this year, and CMS Associate Superintendent Guy Chamberlain says bad weather has been a problem.

“There was a three-week period in June when we were basically at a standstill,” he said.

“The rain and wet ground made it difficult to move mobile classrooms from their old sites, and it was difficult to put down the footers at the new sites,” he said.

Work has been completed at five schools – Albemarle Road, Elon Park, Hidden Valley and Polo Ridge elementary schools, and Reid Park Academy.

Chamberlain says moving the classrooms has not been completed at 15 other sites, but he says the work will be done by Aug. 26 at seven of those schools – Druid Hills Academy, along with Lansdowne, Merry Oaks, Nations Ford, Winding Springs and Windsor Park elementary schools, and South Mecklenburg High School.

At eight other schools, the work will not be done in time for the first day of classes.

“We’re making very good progress now, but we’re also hoping to avoid any more deluges,” Chamberlain said.

The transfer of mobile classrooms is expected to be completed by Sept. 5 at Winterfield Elementary; Sept. 6 at Allenbrook, Billingsville, Ballantyne and Briarwood elementary schools; Sept. 9 at Lebanon Road Elementary; and Sept. 13 at Thomasboro Academy.

“If everything goes right, we could be ready early at some of those sites,” Chamberlain said.

Typically, schools use multipurpose rooms or other vacant spaces to house students when mobile classrooms are not available.

The process of interviewing and hiring teachers continues this week. CMS officials say the 157.5 vacancies include 62 in elementary school, 45 in middle school, 43.5 positions in high school, and seven “multi-grade” positions.

Last year, CMS had about 100 vacancies five days before the start of classes, saying 99 percent of teaching positions were filled at that point. So it is reasonable to expect that the school system could be in the same position next week, when it is five days before the start of school.

CMS says it has hired or promoted more than 1,200 teachers since mid-May.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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