South Charlotte

Are charter schools in the future for Mint Hill, Matthews?

Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers, from left, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor and N.C. Rep. Bill Brawley, R-District 103, agree the legislative bill would allow more educational choices to families in Matthews and Mint Hill.
Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers, from left, Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor and N.C. Rep. Bill Brawley, R-District 103, agree the legislative bill would allow more educational choices to families in Matthews and Mint Hill. Charlotte Observer file photo

Under the proposed Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools reassignment plan, Matthews students will remain in their current schools, but a new bill working its way through the state legislature could give them additional choices in the future.

North Carolina House Bill 514 passed April 27 by the N.C. House, would allow the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill to create and form their own charter schools and give town residents priority in attendance at those schools.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Bill Brawley who represents the Matthews area, now moves on to the N.C. Senate for its approval.

Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor says he’s pleased with the proposed CMS reassignment plan that leaves the attendance boundaries for schools in Matthews and Mint Hill intact, but says he is still looking to the future when those boundaries might be changed.

“I am pleased with the new proposed student assignment plan but the concern I have is that student assignment will come up again in the future,” said Taylor.

“Down the road CMS will be faced with another reassignment. We will be fine today, but there is no guarantee for the future.”

Brawley says under current law the towns could already form their own charter schools, but residency could not be used as a factor for determining who could attend.

Passage of HB 514 is necessary to assure that students in the town boundaries have first choice in attendance.

The bill was a result of the recommendations of the mayoral appointed Matthews Educational Task Force chaired by local attorney Landon Dunn.

“The vision of the Mayor’s Task Force on Education is to create a high performing school system responsive to the needs of families within our community” said Dunn.

She said the committee discussed the possibility of school system deconsolidation, but decided that the town charter school option seemed less cumbersome and more doable.

The task force’s final report recommended establishing a charter school campus that would be home to a variety of privately run charter schools, giving parents and students a variety of educational options.

Next door to Matthews, Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers says he is pleased with CMS’ s proposed reassignment plan as well, but also thinks it is important for town residents to have choices – just in case.

“I don’t have a desire to form our own school system unless the parents and residents think we need to. As far as I can determine, the citizens of Mint Hill are happy with their educational choices,” said Biggers.

“But if the bill passes, and if it’s seen as a benefit to the parents and the children, then we can create our own charter school.”

Taylor says he sees the bill as just another step in providing more educational choices to families in his town.

“I think if we get the legislation approved it will give Matthews and Mint Hill residents more options in the future. It will give families additional educational choices that they don’t have today,” said Taylor.

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: m.johnston@carolina.rr.com.

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