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CMS approves a dozen new programs at $3.7 million cost

A dozen new schools and magnet programs with a price tag of about $3.7 million won unanimous Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approval Wednesday.

The new programs, which include three new college-based high schools, several high-tech programs and a new Montessori magnet, will provide assignment options for hundreds of students in 2014-15. Costs, which were not released until the start of Wednesday’s meeting, include spending for busing, laptops, science labs and mobile classrooms.

Superintendent Heath Morrison said some of that money is in the current budget. Staff will continue to look for grants and state and federal money, as well as ways to trim costs, he said.

“The emphasis is on quality and choice for our families,” Morrison said.

At the start of Wednesday’s meeting, Bosch Rexroth Corp., a German machine-parts manufacturer with a Charlotte plant, donated $80,000 to build a machine shop at a new advanced manufacturing program at Olympic High. Morrison called it “an extremely generous show of support” that signals the enthusiasm the community has for expanding CMS choices.

Hundreds of people attended earlier community meetings to learn about the new options, according to a CMS report. Only a handful spoke at Wednesday’s public hearing, including Mountain Island Elementary parents who urged support for the proposal that will add middle school grades starting next year.

Families will start applying for 2014-15 assignments on Jan. 11. Meanwhile, board member Eric Davis said the human resources department faces a crucial task: Recruiting teachers who have the skills for the new programs without pulling them from existing schools.

“It’s all about talent,” Davis said.

The actions came at a meeting where Paul Bailey and Thelma Byers-Bailey, elected in November, joined the board and where Mary McCray and Tim Morgan were unanimously re-elected as chair and vice chair.

Some families who had hoped for boundary changes to assign their kids to closer schools left disappointed. CMS created a process to review such requests this year, but staff rejected all the requests except one. The board approved moving a handful of homes in the southern Ballanmoor subdivision from Hawk Ridge to Elon Park elementary, joining the rest of the subdivision.

Speakers in the Crown Colony and Bishops Ridge subdivisions asked the board to override the staff decision and change their assignment, but there was no move to do so. Davis asked to talk about the boundary process, but McCray said the board will meet later to review it.

Helms: 704-358-5033; Twitter: @anndosshelms
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