One of the most crowded Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools came a step closer to relief Tuesday, when the school board approved a $25 million construction contract for a new K-8 school in east Charlotte.
The school will serve a small neighborhood zone and offer about 500 magnet seats for families who want their children to learn in Spanish and English, similar to the popular Collinswood Language Academy. It’s set to open in 2018 and designed to provide relief to Albemarle Road Elementary, which is one of the most crowded in CMS with 38 mobile classrooms.
Albemarle Road Middle School is also somewhat overfilled, with eight mobile classrooms. Both are located in an area that has seen strong growth in recent years as Charlotte’s Hispanic population has boomed.
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The board’s vice chair, Elyse Dashew, noted that the new school, “which we just so desperately need,” also is expected to shift magnet students from Collinswood, which is overfilled.
The new school, funded by bonds approved in 2013, meets two CMS goals: In addition to easing school crowding, it provides more magnet seats as part of the district’s push to expand family choice. The dual-language program has proven popular with Spanish- and English-speaking families.
The contract calls for Edifice Inc. to build the 54-classroom school.
The vote also illustrates one of the challenges as CMS scrambles to keep up with enrollment: Years pass between planning and opening. The project was part of a $290 million bond package approved by voters in November 2013 to address the most urgent needs at that time. Now CMS is gearing up to ask county commissioners to put $798 million in bonds on this year’s ballot, with officials saying the projects are long overdue to ease crowding and improve existing schools.
“We need the county commissioners and the public to support us in our effort to pass a bond this year,” Dashew said.