The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board has approved a real estate deal that will put 600-plus employees in the same corporate center, marking the apparent end to the system’s policy of placing zone offices in the community.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the school board approved a deal that will give CMS 152,000 square feet in three buildings at the Atrium Corporate Center, on Stuart Andrew Boulevard. That is off Interstate 77 in south Charlotte.
Superintendent Heath Morrison said the move not only brings learning community office personnel in the same location, but it will enable CMS to reopen Oakhurst and Starmount schools. Both buildings now are used for learning community (formerly known as zone) offices and for other CMS divisions.
Mecklenburg County commissioners bought the Atrium property earlier this year, and CMS will acquire the site as part of the land-swap deal involving the former Education Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in uptown.
“One of our district goals is to provide stable, suitable office space for our administrative staff,” Morrison said. “We also want to return Oakhurst and Starmount, which are presently being used as administrative space, to use as schools.
“The Atrium site would allow us to consolidate staff currently spread across four former schools and other buildings.”
CMS said it will use the Atrium site for personnel from the seven learning community offices, along with accountability, finance and community partnerships, and family engagement. It also will house employees from human resources, learning and teaching, and technology.
Not affected will be CMS employees now working at the Government Center, the Smith Family Center, the development staff at Spaugh and the Auxiliary Services facility on Stafford Drive.
CMS launched its learning communities in 2007, placing zone superintendents and their staffs in offices scattered around the county. Then-Superintendent Peter Gorman said CMS wanted to bring administrators closer to parents and school staffs.
But budget cuts in recent years forced CMS to close most of those offices and move staff to former schools and other CMS-owned facilities.
CMS said it hopes to reopen the Oakhurst and Starmount sites to academic use in the 2015-16 school year.