A group of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers, parents and students Tuesday urged Mecklenburg County commissioners to let voters decide quickly on a proposed $805 million school bond package.
The school board has asked to put the bonds on the November ballot, while county commissioners say their plan calls for waiting until 2017, when school needs will be considered along with parks, Central Piedmont Community College and other county-funded projects.
ONE Charlotte (for One Network for Education) held a rally to highlight crowding and schools in need of renovations. The CMS plan would authorize borrowing for 29 projects, including 10 new schools, 18 renovations and expansions and a new administrative building.
Speakers called for commissioners to make a decision and let the public know soon whether there will be a 2016 referendum, and if not, what the county will do to improve CMS facilities. North Carolina school boards don’t have taxing authority and rely on county officials for money to build and improve schools.
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Kim Riddle, who has two children in elementary school, noted the slow process of moving from bond approval to construction to new schools. She pointed out that renovation and expansion of South Mecklenburg High is on the CMS list. If the county waits until November 2017 to hold a bond referendum, “my 8-year-old will still be at an overcrowded South Meck,” she said.
Timing of a bond referendum was not on the agenda for Tuesday night’s commissioners’ meeting. CMS and county officials are scheduled to hold a joint meeting on the 2016-17 operating budget next week.