Education

Now's time to weigh in on future of magnets

The south suburbs this week will host the first of seven meetings in which Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders hope to hear what the public thinks about magnet schools and graduation requirements.

There's plenty of room for people to weigh in. The school board remains far from consensus on how to revamp its menu of specialized academic programs and whether to cut the credits required for a diploma.

In late June, Superintendent Peter Gorman brought the board a list of proposals for magnets, which included eliminating magnets from 13 schools, beefing up some entrance requirements and creating K-8 Spanish-immersion schools at two elementaries. Most board members said they wanted something different, but they weren't clear on what.

Ken Gjertsen, who represents the south suburbs, urged Gorman to move some of the best magnets closer to his constituents.

“If you want southern Mecklenburg to participate in magnet programs, you have to make it easier for us to get to them,” said Gjertsen, who has repeatedly suggested adding an International Baccalaureate magnet at South Meck High.

Thursday night, officials will spend two hours at Ardrey Kell High in the Ballantyne area. They hope lots of people – including those who don't have kids in magnet programs – will join them.

“We really need that diversity of comments and ideas,” said Scott McCully, the district's top student-assignment official.

CMS leaders will present Gorman's plan, but also gather participants for small-group discussions of their own ideas and concerns. “Parents should come prepared to be engaged and to think about what they want for our magnet schools,” McCully said.

The session will also include talk about whether CMS should lower its 28-credit requirement for graduation. That's eight credits more than the state minimum and seven more than some prestigious private schools demand. Some say scaling back would reduce dropout rates, while others argue that it's “dumbing down” at a time when the workplace demands more education.

The board plans to vote on both issues in the fall, after holding meetings across Mecklenburg County.

The south suburbs this week will host the first of seven meetings in which Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders hope to hear what the public thinks about magnet schools and graduation requirements.

There's plenty of room for people to weigh in. The school board remains far from consensus on how to revamp its menu of specialized academic programs and whether to cut the credits required for a diploma.

In late June, Superintendent Peter Gorman brought the board a list of proposals for magnets, which included eliminating magnets from 13 schools, beefing up some entrance requirements and creating K-8 Spanish-immersion schools at two elementaries. Most board members said they wanted something different, but they weren't clear on what.

Ken Gjertsen, who represents the south suburbs, urged Gorman to move some of the best magnets closer to his constituents.

“If you want southern Mecklenburg to participate in magnet programs, you have to make it easier for us to get to them,” said Gjertsen, who has repeatedly suggested adding an International Baccalaureate magnet at South Meck High.

Thursday night, officials will spend two hours at Ardrey Kell High in the Ballantyne area. They hope lots of people – including those who don't have kids in magnet programs – will join them.

“We really need that diversity of comments and ideas,” said Scott McCully, the district's top student-assignment official.

CMS leaders will present Gorman's plan, but also gather participants for small-group discussions of their own ideas and concerns. “Parents should come prepared to be engaged and to think about what they want for our magnet schools,” McCully said.

The session will also include talk about whether CMS should lower its 28-credit requirement for graduation. That's eight credits more than the state minimum and seven more than some prestigious private schools demand. Some say scaling back would reduce dropout rates, while others argue that it's “dumbing down” at a time when the workplace demands more education.

The board plans to vote on both issues in the fall, after holding meetings across Mecklenburg County.

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