CMS magnet school forums begin: Here’s what to expect

First glimpse: CMS student assignment hits the road

Here's what to expect from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' August community meetings on magnet changes.
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Here's what to expect from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' August community meetings on magnet changes.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools took its student assignment show on the road Monday, as dozens of parents and students came to Mallard Creek High to discuss the possibility of new magnet schools, different busing zones for magnet students and a revised lottery that would boost socioeconomic diversity.

Monday’s event kicked off a series of 12 sessions that will be held around Mecklenburg County through Aug. 18. The goal is for everyone to have an opportunity to get an update and take part in small-group discussions about what they like or worry about in the options under review.

The first look at policy proposals will come Sept. 19.

That means they have to get their minds around complex material that the school board spent four hours discussing last week. There are information sheets, and CMS facilitators provide overviews.

But the most important goal for CMS is to get first-hand reports of what’s working, what new options families want to see and how to avoid landmines. District leaders are trying to strike a delicate balance: breaking up concentrations of poverty and providing alternatives to low-performing schools without undermining schools that work.

At this point, there’s no specific plan for people to weigh in on. CMS staff and consultants expect to unveil their first draft of policy changes for 2017-18 at a special policy committee meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Sept. 19. The board will discuss those proposals and hold a formal public hearing in October, with a vote Nov. 9.

Participants in the small-group talks take notes – that’s to avoid suspicion that CMS staff might skew reports to fit preconceived notions – and results from each session will be compiled for the school board.

All this is just Phase One. Discussion of possible changes to assignment policies for neighborhood schools still lies ahead, for 2018-19.

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