The price tag for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet expansions in 2017 is $14.5 million so far, with costs for busing and staff still unknown.
But Superintendent Ann Clark says the district already has most of the money for upgrading buildings, reopening closed schools and buying material to support the academic themes that were approved last week. Less than $900,000 will be added to the 2017-18 budget request to Mecklenburg County commissioners in the spring, according to the CMS tally.
The rest is available from the sale of the old CMS Education Center and its space in the Walton Plaza building, from “sustainment money” provided by the county and from the current operating budget. The school board knew going into the year that some type of magnet expansion was in the works and budgeted for that, Clark said.
Adding magnet seats is part of a plan to expand choice and promote diversity. The board has been working on student assignment revisions since 2015; that review will continue through 2017 with a look at neighborhood schools.
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The most expensive item on the 2017 list is opening a Montessori middle-high magnet school at the former J.T. Williams Middle School, which was shuttered during a round of recession-driven closings and consolidations in 2010.
The plan calls for spending $6.9 million to upgrade the Williams building, which now houses the Turning Point Academy alternative school for students with discipline problems. Another $1.9 million will go toward rehabbing the old Pawtuckett Elementary, also closed in 2010, to house Turning Point.
The total tab for the Montessori shuffle comes to $9.6 million, including classroom technology, Montessori material and teacher certification. The magnet program, which is temporarily housed at Sedgefield Middle, will have room to expand to 750 students in grades 7-12.
The other big-ticket change for 2017 is opening a new K-5 computer science magnet school at the old Newell Elementary building on Old Concord Road, at $3.6 million. That includes renovation, furnishings, material and professional development for teachers.
▪ Adding a health sciences magnet program at Billingsville Elementary, at a cost of about $138,000 for materials, technology and professional development.
▪ Adding a computer science magnet program at Paw Creek Elementary. The $478,000 tab includes money to add mobile classrooms and labs that support the program.
▪ Expanding the Early College High at UNC Charlotte to include a program for aspiring educators. The $72,000 cost includes furnishings, student parking and other fees.
▪ Creating a Middle College High at Central Piedmont Community College’s Merancas campus in Huntersville, with $217,000 going for furnishings, technology, fees, textbooks and bus passes for students.
▪ Changes to Marie G. Davis military/leadership academy, costing $256,000. Some of that will go toward moving grades 9-12 to Hawthorne Academy and some toward shifting the K-8 program to International Baccalaureate.
▪ Moving a science, technology, engineering and math magnet program from Palisades Park to Winget Park Elementary. The $123,000 cost covers a new lab, technology and professional development for Winget Park.
Most of the cost of staffing the new programs will come from the state, but Clark says the changes may require adding some county-paid faculty. The biggest unknown is transportation; that cost will depend on how many additional students sign up for magnet programs early next year and how long and complex their bus rides will be.