Hundreds of Charlotte Mecklenburg School students could have more schools to choose from next year. They include classes on college campuses and another Montessori magnet. Tuesday night, CMS officials rolled out plans for the new programs.
CMS could offer as many as nine new programs next year. Many of them are magnets that are open to students outside the neighborhoods they’re located in. Superintendent Heath Morrison says this is part of the plan to offer every CMS student at least two quality options within the district.
“Ultimately, we want parents to think very strongly about their local, home, neighborhood school, but with a 144,000 students we want to have lots of options for parents so that they can have the best opportunity to have their children educated,” says Morrison.
One of the new magnets would be located on the campus of UNC Charlotte. It would be something called an early college high school and focus on engineering and energy. Students would enter the schools as 9th graders and work on their high school diplomas, as well as two years of college credit.
CMS already has a similar school on CPCC’s Cato campus in east Charlotte, but it’s only for 11th and 12th graders. The plan for next year is duplicating that school on the community college’s Harper and Levine campuses in the southwest and southeast parts of the county.
In the northern part of the county, several charter schools are luring kids away from CMS. Rhonda Lennon who represents that area cheered plans to create a Montessori magnet in Huntersville.
“I really feel like the Montessori program at Long Creek is going to attract students that are in private schools right now and in charter schools,” said Lennon.
So how could CMS afford to create all these new programs in time for next year?
Most of them don’t require new buildings. For example, that Montessori magnet would be located in an old building on the Long Creek elementary school campus. Another high school magnet geared around technology would be housed in Cochrane middle school, which has the same focus.
Morrison told the board to get used to arrangements like this, since, he said, CMS can’t keep building and renovating schools like it used to because the district can no longer borrow as much.
“We’re just going to have to think out of the box because, even with our bond referendum hopefully being very successful, we’re still going to have to think about facilities in unique and different ways than we’ve traditionally done at CMS,” said Morrison.
One big expense with adding so many new magnets would be transportation. The district is still estimating how much the whole plan would cost. The board votes on the proposals December 11th.