CMS Boundary Proposal Unlikely To Make Big Changes

Apr 24, 2017

Those who hope new CMS school boundaries will go a long way to breaking up concentrations of poverty will likely be disappointed Tuesday night. That's when CMS Superintendent Ann Clark releases her recommendations for how to proceed with the district's student assignment plan.   

CMS parents weigh in at a hearing on student assignment April 2016.
Credit Lisa Worf

This plan is two years and many heated discussions in the works. Most of the controversy has focused on how to make schools more diverse. That's important to Ruby Jones who represents northeast Mecklenburg County. She got a sneak peak of the proposal. 

"I think it's a start in the direction of providing some equity and some choice," says Jones. 

It's also an acknowledgement, she says, that student assignment can only do so much to break up concentrations of poverty.

"We just have housing patterns that make it cost-inefficient, time-inefficient to do some of the harder things. But I think it's the first deep dive into what needs to happen," says Jones. 

Board members agree a new plan should create more economically-diverse schools to help tackle challenges in high-poverty schools like high teacher turnover. But they disagree on whether that should take priority over another goal - assigning students to schools close to home.

"In what I'm seeing, it really feels like neighborhood boundaries were honored," says Rhonda Lennon, who represents northern Mecklenburg County.   

She's thrilled about that. She worried the plan would call for shifting a lot of students and transporting them long distances.

"Some neighborhoods will be making some transitions, but, by and large, it's very conservative," says Lennon.

Tuesday night's board meeting starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Government Center. The superintendent's proposal will also include recommendations on whether to dismantle eight k-8 schools on the city's west side. The board created those schools in 2011 by merging several elementary and middle schools in an effort to save money. Many parents opposed that move.