Board rejects plan on magnets

A majority of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board on Tuesday night rejected the superintendent's plan for cutting and revising magnets, but offered no consensus on alternatives.

Superintendent Peter Gorman proposed cutting magnet programs from 13 schools. Four of the nine board members – Trent Merchant, Kaye McGarry, Ken Gjertsen and Larry Gauvreau – urged him to cut more to focus the district's efforts on a handful of programs.

“To me it's only nibbling at the surface,” McGarry said of Gorman's proposal.

Vilma Leake said CMS should not pull French immersion from Oaklawn Elementary or abolish its “open” program. She also urged staff to clone the successful Davidson International Baccalaureate Middle School by creating more small stand-alone IB middle and high schools.

Leake nodded as Gjertsen urged Gorman and his staff to start over.

“Tonight five board members have looked at it and said, ‘This isn't what we want. This isn't enough,'” Gjertsen said.

Gorman asked the board for more direction. “We struggle when we hear, ‘It's not enough, it's not enough.' You want us to be more specific … but help us with that, too,” Gorman said.

“You've heard us talk,” Leake replied. “I don't know how much more clearer we can be.”

Chairman Joe White disagreed: “I'm not sure this board knows exactly what they want from magnets.”

Transportation Director Carol Stamper told the board she's considering requiring magnet students to meet at central locations, such as schools or commercial parking lots, for bus stops in 2009-10. The concern is about the high cost of busing.

No matter what the board decides about magnets, it will not affect assignments for the school year that begins in August.