CMS bonds: what are they, and what do they mean for parents?
A lot of us have been trying to get our heads around what the $922 million Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bond package will and won’t do if it’s approved Nov. 7.
Have sites been chosen for new schools? When will the work be done? How will plans to shuffle and expand magnet programs play out?
There’s some information available at the CMS website, and other pieces can be found at the Vote Yes for Bonds site. But last week Superintendent Clayton Wilcox and all the key players on his staff sat down to walk me through the projects so I could pull together a list that I hope will answer more questions.
Wilcox inherited this project list from Superintendent Ann Clark, with the board approving the plan well before Wilcox took over in July. I wondered how committed he is to these projects – is there wiggle room he might use to reshape this plan?
“The projects that are planned are the projects that we’re going to deliver,” he said. “Is there some room to talk about scope and scale of the projects? I think there may be. But we will deliver the projects.”
No list is perfect, and I don’t pretend I can answer all the questions being posed by the people who are most intensely involved with these schools. But here’s my best attempt to lay out the what, when, why and how much.
You may notice my list is organized differently from the district’s. It still adds up to 10 new schools, seven replacement schools and 12 renovation/expansion projects, but I’ve tried to group my list so you can see how some of the projects – especially the magnet changes – interact with each other. I’ve also ordered them by completion date, not where they fell on the CMS priority list.
None of the new schools has been named yet; I simply chose broad locational labels. Costs are rounded and opening dates are estimated – actual conditions could change either one. Years refer to the start of a school year unless otherwise noted.
If you’ve got more questions for CMS, you can email email@example.com or visit the district’s bond information Facebook page.
New neighborhood schools
Southwest elementary school: A 45-classroom school would be built on land CMS recently agreed to buy off Sandy Porter Road. It will relieve Nations Ford, Sterling and Steele Creek. Opening is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $30 million.
Southwest high school: A 125-classroom school to relieve Olympic High would be built on CMS property next to Palisades Park Elementary School on York Road. Opening is scheduled for 2022. Cost is $110 million.
Mint Hill/Matthews elementary school: A 45-classroom school would be built on the grounds of Mint Hill Middle School on Idlewild Road between Mint Hill and Matthews, relieving Bain, Lebanon Road and Piney Grove. Opening is scheduled for 2022. Cost is $30 million.
South high school: A 125-classroom school would be built to relieve South Meck and Ardrey Kell, possibly pulling some additional students from Myers Park and Olympic. Land has not been purchased. Opening is scheduled for 2023. Cost is $110 million.
East elementary school: A 45-classroom school would be built to relieve Windsor Park, Winterfield and Idlewild. Land has not been purchased. Opening is scheduled for 2023. Cost is $30 million.
Northeast elementary school: A 45-classroom school would be built to relieve Hidden Valley, Grier and Newell. Land has not been purchased. Opening is scheduled for 2023. Cost is $31 million.
South elementary school: A 45-classroom school would be built to relieve Elon Park, Hawk Ridge and Polo Ridge. Land has not been purchased. Opening is scheduled for 2023. Cost is $30 million.
New/changing magnet schools
Lincoln Heights: The 2002 Lincoln Heights building just north of uptown Charlotte, currently housing a school for students with behavioral disabilities, would be renovated and reopened as a magnet school, probably offering preK-6 Montessori.
Opening is scheduled for 2019. Cost is $4 million.
Collinswood Language Academy: The K-8 Spanish/English immersion magnet school, now in a 1959 building on Applegate Road in south Charlotte, would move to a new building on the site of the CMS Smith Family Center, about two miles south on Tyvola Road. The new building would house about 1,300 students, compared with 760 at the old one.
The move is scheduled for 2020. Cost is $44 million. CMS has not decided what to do with the old building.
New north language magnet: A 63-classroom K-8 language immersion school would be built on the site of the old J.M. Alexander Middle School on Hambright Road in Huntersville. It would be similar to Waddell Language Academy, but the languages offered could vary.
It would hold about 1,300 students, with enrollment phased in. The new school would serve students in the northern violet transportation zone.
Opening is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $45 million.
New south language magnet: Waddell Language Academy, a K-8 magnet offering Chinese, French, German and Japanese language immersion, would move from a former high school on Nations Ford Road to a new 63-classroom school built on the site of the old Nations Ford Elementary, about one mile south. It would hold about 1,300 students and serve the southern blue and green transportation zones. Students from northern Mecklenburg County would eventually shift to the north magnet, though some would be allowed to stay if they’ve started at Waddell.
The move is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $45 million. CMS says each of the language programs would continue.
Waddell magnet high school: After the language academy moves, the 2001 building on Nations Ford Road, which was designed as a high school, would be updated as a magnet high school. Themes haven’t been chosen, but some combination of International Baccalaureate, STEM and world languages is under discussion. The school could include a small neighborhood zone.
Opening is scheduled for 2022. Cost is $5 million.
Montclaire Elementary: The 1958 building in south Charlotte would be replaced by a new 45-classroom school on the Farmbrook Drive site. Completion is scheduled for 2020; once the students move the old building would be torn down and replaced with playgrounds and ball fields. Cost is $29 million.
Briarwood Elementary: The 1956 building in northeast Charlotte would be replaced by a 45-classroom school near the Wilann Drive location. CMS has not publicly identified the site but officials say they’re working with the county’s Parks and Recreation Department to secure land. Completion is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $29 million.
Lansdowne Elementary: The 1959 building in southeast Charlotte would be replaced by a 45-classroom school on the Prett Court site. It would be large enough to pick up some students from Elizabeth Lane. Completion is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $29 million.
West Mecklenburg High: The 1954 gymnasium would be replaced. Completion is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $11 million.
Harding High: The cafeteria and gym would be replaced at the west Charlotte neighborhood/magnet school. Completion is scheduled for January 2021. Cost is $18 million.
Sharon Elementary: An additional 15 to 20 classrooms would be added to the southeast Charlotte school. Completion is scheduled for 2021. Cost is $8 million.
West Charlotte High: A new 125-classroom school would be built on the Senior Drive campus to replace the current sprawl of 15 buildings, the oldest dating back to 1954. The recently-built athletic “turf field” would be preserved. Completion is scheduled for 2022. Cost is $110 million.
East Mecklenburg High: Three 1949 classroom buildings would be replaced. Completion is scheduled for 2022. Cost is $13 million.
Mountain Island Lake Academy: A new gym and four specialty classrooms would be added to the 2002 school in northwest Charlotte, which opened as an elementary school and later added middle school grades. Completion is scheduled for 2023. Cost is $9 million.
Shamrock Gardens Elementary: The 1954 building in east Charlotte would be replaced with a 45-classroom school built on the Country Club Drive site. Completion is scheduled for January 2023. Cost is $30 million.
Garinger High: Twenty to 30 new classrooms would be added and older areas of the east Charlotte school will be upgraded. Completion is scheduled for January 2023. Cost is $14 million.
Olympic, Harding, Garinger and South Mecklenburg high schools: Buildings would be upgraded to create new career-tech classes, with the programs yet to be selected. Completion is scheduled for January 2023. Cost for all four is $10 million.
Bruns Academy: The 1969 building northwest of uptown Charlotte would be replaced with a 45-classroom school. It currently houses grades K-8 but will become an elementary school in 2018. Completion of the new building is scheduled for 2024. Cost is $34 million.
J.T. Williams Secondary Montessori: Upgrades would be made to the 1962 former middle school in north Charlotte that reopened this year as a Montessori magnet for grades 7-12. Completion is scheduled for 2024. Cost is $14 million.
Northwest School of the Arts: A 1952 classroom building would be replaced and additional classroom space would be added at the west Charlotte magnet school. Completion is scheduled for 2024. Cost is $18 million.
South Mecklenburg High: Two 1958 classroom buildings would be replaced. Completion is set for January 2025. Cost is $13 million.
New special school
CMS would build a school for the program serving students with behavioral disabilities, which is now housed at Lincoln Heights, on the site of the old Statesville Road Elementary School in north Charlotte. Completion is scheduled for 2019. Cost is $19 million.