Education

CMS board to vote Tuesday on school bonds and search consultant

Relief from school crowding is one reason CMS officials plan to seek an $805 million bond package this year.
Relief from school crowding is one reason CMS officials plan to seek an $805 million bond package this year. Observer file photo

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board will vote Tuesday on a superintendent search firm and an $805 million bond request – but don’t count on following any of it in real time.

Tuesday’s meeting is packed with high-interest items: A public hearing on Superintendent Ann Clark’s budget proposal and a vote on student assignment guidelines were slotted last week, and board Chair Mary McCray said Monday the bond and search votes are being added.

The meeting will be at Butler High in Matthews, part of the board’s plan to hold at least one meeting a year away from the uptown Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center. But board services manager Julie Beck said Monday the location means CMS-TV won’t be able to broadcast or stream the meeting live, as it normally does. Video will be posted later at the CMS website.

Nor is it clear that reporters will be able to file live reports or social media posts. Beck said the Butler auditorium has little to no cellular access, and CMS can’t ensure that news media will have access to a power supply.

So for those who want to keep up with the four biggest issues facing Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, the best bet may be heading to Butler. If you live outside the Matthews area, allow time to inch through rush-hour traffic for the 6 p.m. meeting at 1810 Matthews-Mint Hill Road.

Here’s what to expect:

Budget: The meeting starts with a public hearing on Clark’s $1.4 billion budget for 2016-’17, which includes a request that the county add $23 million for CMS, for a total of $425 million in local money. Speakers can call 980-343-5139 by noon Tuesday or sign up outside the auditorium before the meeting starts. (Comments on other issues won’t be heard at this meeting.)

The board will vote on its budget request to the county May 10.

Bonds: The board will vote on asking county commissioners to put an $805 million bond referendum on the November ballot. Clark and board members say the need for new schools, renovation and expansions are urgent, but County Manager Dena Diorio and several county commissioners have said they plan to wait until 2017.

Student assignment: The board will vote on guiding principles for a review of student assignment, leading to changes that could take effect in 2017-’18. Thousands have weighed in already by responding to a CMS online poll and attending student assignment forums around Mecklenburg County.

Superintendent search: The board hopes to authorize a contract with a superintendent search consultant after interviewing four finalists earlier this month. McCray said General Counsel George Battle III was working out the final details Monday, which is why that item is the last to be added to the agenda.

She said once the contract is approved, the board will meet with the consultant in the next 10 days to work out a plan, including a timeline and how the public will be involved. Clark’s contract runs through June 2017, but some members have pushed to have a successor in place well before that.

For details, including the agenda, board member contact information and a link to where the meeting video will be posted, go to www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe

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

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