Board Votes To Close Waddell; Most Proposals Pass
Waddell High School parents and students lost their fight to save their school, but Harding University High will remain open, albeit with significant changes. The CMS board voted 5-4 late Tuesday night to close Waddell and move Smith Language Academy into the 9-year-old school. Most Waddell students will attend Harding. The rest will be assigned to South Meck, West Meck and West Charlotte , depending where they live. The vote means Harding will become a home school and a partial magnet. Harding will keep its IB program, but its math and science magnet will move to nearby Phillip O. Berry Academy. It was an emotion meeting that lasted about 5 1/2 hours. Citizens bombarded board members with criticism for nearly four hours in the public comment portion of the meeting. Board members approved most proposals to close and consolidate about a dozen schools, with one major exception: Irwin Avenue Elementary will not be turned into CMS office space. CMS wanted to move into Irwin because it expects to lose its lease at the county-owned Education Center. Board member Kaye McGarry said she could not support moving adults into a building intended for kids. "Let the Education Center go to the NASCAR Hall of Fame," McGarry said, referring to the vacant space at the new building. But Irwin Avenue is still closing. It will be the new home for the Villa Heights Elementary magnet program. CMS staff had recommended that the board close Lincoln Heights and move Villa Heights into that building. Irwin Avenue students will now go to Dilworth and Ashley Park home schools. The board also voted 5-4 to close J.T. Williams, Bishop Spaugh and Wilson Middle Schools and send those students to newly created K-8 schools. One of the least controversial votes involved closuring Davidson IB Middle School and moving the program to Alexander Middle School . That proposal passed 8-1; McGarry was the lone board member to vote against it.