Education

Ready, set: Ring those school bells in Charlotte, across NC

A school bus is reflected in its mirrors as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrators held a back-to-school media briefing at Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences last week.
A school bus is reflected in its mirrors as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools administrators held a back-to-school media briefing at Hawthorne Academy of Health Sciences last week. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

On Monday, the back-to-school trickle becomes a flood. Most of North Carolina’s 2,442 public schools start classes that day, though some public and private schools opened earlier.

Here’s what to look for:

New schools, more students

▪ Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is adding four elementary schools, for a total of 168 schools. The district expects 147,769 K-12 students, an increase of about 2,400. Prekindergarten enrollment is slated to rise from 2,157 to 3,033.

▪ Twelve new district schools are opening across North Carolina. Total enrollment is projected to top 1.5 million, increasing by more than 17,000 students.

▪ Fourteen new charter schools, including four in Charlotte, are opening this year, bringing the total to 160.

New grading scale

Last year N.C. public schools used a seven-point scale for student grades, which meant, for instance, that an A required a score of 93 or higher. This year they’ll use a 10-point scale, which means an A is 90 and up.

More digital devices

All CMS fifth- and ninth-graders are getting Chromebook laptops to use in their classrooms, as part of a push across the state to use more digital resources and interactive lessons. CMS provided the laptops for all students in grades 6-8 last year.

Easier CMS enrollment

The district is trying to make it easier for families to sign their kids up. Only two proofs of residence are now required, instead of three, and residents of the Charlotte Housing Authority, group homes or refugee resettlement programs only need one. Alternatives to birth certificates are now accepted for proof of name and age.

Unresolved money questions

Because the state legislature still hasn’t approved a 2015-16 budget, all N.C. district and charter schools are opening with unanswered questions. Among them: Will district schools have to hire or lay off teacher assistants? How much will faculty be paid? Can districts afford to keep offering driver’s ed?

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

Tips for CMS families

▪ Be sure to check your child’s bus assignment; it may have changed since last year.

▪ To report a late or missing bus, call 980-343-6715. Allow for first-day delays.

▪ If you’re new and have not yet enrolled your children, take them to their assigned school. Details: www.cms.k12.nc.us/cmsdepartments/StudentPlacement or 980-343-5335.

▪ For more back-to-school information: www.cms.k12.nc.us/mediaroom/backtoschool

  Comments