Education

Big week ahead in CMS: School board votes on diversity and choice in assignment plan

A CMS slide lays out the new process of using socioeconomic status priorities to assign seats in magnet programs.
A CMS slide lays out the new process of using socioeconomic status priorities to assign seats in magnet programs.

This week brings a close to a process that seems like it has gone on forever, with a result that some dread and others are ready to celebrate.

And it happens the day after the election.

On Wednesday the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will vote on a new magnet lottery that uses socioeconomic status to award seats in popular programs. It’s designed to increase diversity, break up concentrations of disadvantaged students, provide alternatives to low-performing schools and help the district compete with charter and private schools.

Supporters see it as a first step away from the economic and racial isolation that has come to characterize Charlotte, with more than 50,000 students attending schools that are mostly poor and nonwhite.

Critics say the changes will be ineffective at best, and at worst could drive families out of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

The board has been working on student assignment changes for more than a year, holding numerous public information sessions.

Monday will bring one more chance to hear the pitch and ask questions, as CMS holds simultaneous town hall meetings on the proposal from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at East Mecklenburg High, 6800 Monroe Road, and West Mecklenburg High, 7400 Tuckaseegee Road. People can also watch live and submit questions online; go to www.cms.k12.nc.us and click the “Town Hall Meetings” button at the top of the page.

Before the vote, the school board will hold one last public hearing on the plan at Wednesday’s meeting. There’s also a chance for people to speak on other topics. Call 980-343-5139 by noon Wednesday or sign up on site before the meeting starts. It’s at 6 p.m. at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 E. Fourth St., and airs live online and on CMS-TV Cable 3.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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