Education

CMS superintendent fields live questions about magnet changes

Full video: CMS superintendent fields questions about magnet changes on Facebook Live

Superintendent Ann Clark took live Facebook questions about proposed changes to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet plan Monday.
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Superintendent Ann Clark took live Facebook questions about proposed changes to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet plan Monday.

Superintendent Ann Clark tried a new twist Monday in the quest to help people understand the new Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools magnet plan: She took questions on Facebook Live during her lunch break.

In a 30-minute session with Observer reporter Ann Doss Helms and videographer Justine Miller, she talked about a new system designed to balance socioeconomic status in magnet schools and the district’s efforts to incorporate feedback from staff and families into the plan. The school board will hold a public hearing on the proposed changes Tuesday and expects to vote on Nov. 9.

Some questions dealt with whether the plan does enough to improve low-performing schools, or whether it just prods parents to move those students into magnets. Clark said student assignment is only one tactic to improve performance, and said efforts such as Project LIFT and the Beacon Initiative will continue.

“We’re certainly not forcing any families to choose a magnet,” Clark said. “By the very nature of magnets, parents make a choice to enter the lottery.”

One question, about safety on CMS buses, stumped Clark. It referred to a WBTV report on bus safety inspections released Sept. 20, the day a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer shot Keith Lamont Scott, sparking days of turmoil in the streets. At the time, CMS staff provided WBTV with only a vague assurance that safety is important and “Each day our district is working to get better.” Clark asked her public information staff to check on the matter and report back.

Here’s how to learn more about the magnet plan:

For a presentation to the school board that includes proposed transportation zones, changes to school programs, revised admission requirements and details of how the new socioeconomic status priorities would work, click here.

For more about Tuesday’s public hearing, including how to sign up to speak or watch online, click here.

For more about Nov. 7 town hall meetings on the plan (including online participation) or to watch video from the Oct. 17 meetings, click here.

For a roundup of information about the student assignment review, which will move into a second phase focusing on neighborhood schools later this month, click here.

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