CMS officials: We're ready

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials said Wednesday morning they are better prepared than usual for the start of the school year, which begins Monday for CMS and most North Carolina public systems.

“Thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, we are in good shape,” Superintendent Peter Gorman said during a news conference at one of CMS' new schools – the Military & Global Leadership Academy at Marie G. Davis Academy.

Among the more remarkable accomplishments for the school system:

-- There are no openings for school bus drivers. In recent years, CMS opened classes with large numbers of bus driver vacancies. “Our practice runs this week are going very well, because we have a driver assigned to each bus,” said Carol Stamper, the system's director of transportation.

-- There are only 57.7 teaching positions open, and Human Resources Director Maurice “Mo” Ambler said he expects to have 35 of those filled by Monday. That will leave a vacancy rate of 0.53 percent. “My records show that this is the best ever for us, in that area,” Ambler said.

He said more than 99 percent of all other positions are filled, except for secretarial jobs, where about 98 percent are filled. All but three schools have principals, and one of those openings is expected to be filled next Tuesday at the school board meeting.

CMS expects to have 135,854 students by the 20th day of classes. Six new schools will open, increasing that total to 171.

Gorman and other CMS officials acknowledged that challenges remain, however.

They expect to deal with a large number of parents and family members who try to enroll or transfer their children in the final days before classes – and they are expecting to contend with a significant number of requests to have bus stops changed. Some of those enrollment and transfer requests aren't received until the first day of school.

Stamper and Scott McCully, the school system's student placement director, encouraged parents and family members to enroll children and make transportation change requests immediately. Enrollment and student transfer requests must be made at the Family Application Center, on Marsh Road in south Charlotte.

“At this time of year, that center is very busy, so there might be some wait involved,” McCully said. “But we are working as best we can to speed the process. The best time to visit the Family Application Center is early in the morning.”

Officials said back-to-school packets, containing bus stop information and class assignments, were mailed to families over the weekend. Those packets should be received by now – unless families have moved and not contacted their home schools.

Families that have moved must go to their old schools and fill out a change-of-address form.

“This is incredibly important,” McCully said. “It affects not only the child's assignment but also the transportation (bus stop) details.”

The Family Application Center, 700 Marsh Road, is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. The Call Center number for bus transportation issues is 980-343-6715.

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