Citing the desire of parents, elected officials and the community to educate Matthews children in schools close to their homes, the Matthews town board unanimously passed a resolution Monday evening supporting neighborhood schools, even if it means leaving Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said later this week he will announce the names of citizens he has appointed to serve on his newly created Mayoral Task Force on Educational Needs, which will investigate all options available to ensure that Matthews children are guaranteed access to neighborhood schools.
Taylor said some of the options the committee may consider are mentioned in the Neighborhood Schools resolution, including creation of a Matthews school district, the formation of town-controlled charter schools, or the breakup of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools into three separate districts: North Mecklenburg, Middle Mecklenburg and South Mecklenburg.
Taylor said the newly minted Educational Needs task force will also work with the General Assembly to get permission to create a Matthews school district, if that is what the task forces deems is best.
Though the plan is still in the talking stages, Taylor said it’s conceivable that CMS could turn the five schools in the town – Crown Point Elementary, Elizabeth Lane Elementary, Matthews Elementary, Crestdale Middle School and Butler High School – over to Matthews for the town to operate.
“I believe Matthews could financially support its own school district, and I think our community would support it as well. I’ve gotten tons of emails from people saying ‘Just go for it,’ ” Taylor said.
He said the town’s concern began a few weeks ago when the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board failed to include a home school guarantee in the guiding principles they approved for the upcoming student assignment plan.
“They are working beyond what they have been tasked to do. Their job is to educate the kids and not attempt social engineering,” Taylor said. “If they would focus on just educating the kids and not keep moving the chess pieces around on the board, then we wouldn’t be faced with this situation.”
Last week, Mint Hill commissioners briefly discussed the future student assignment plans but no resolution was presented.
Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers said that, while he plans to form an Educational Task Force in the next few weeks, he believes the Matthews resolution is premature.
“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board has not said that it is planning to bus our kids,” Biggers said. “The only type of resolution that I would support would be similar to the northern towns, where they are proclaiming to CMS that they are in favor of neighborhood schools.”
Pineville Mayor Jack Edwards said his council has not discussed the issue, although he says with only one school in Pineville – Pineville Elementary – it would not be practical to talk about pulling away from CMS.
Last week the towns of Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville passed resolutions urging the CMS board to support neighborhood schools as the first criteria in their Student Placement Guiding Principles.