Charlotte Mecklenburg School officials have a $34 million capital plan to improve security at all of the district’s schools.  It includes cameras and 8 foot tall chain-link fences on all campuses.  But the plan still requires buy-in from the county commission. 

The idea is to limit the number of entry points into schools.  Think about high schools like Myers Park and West Mecklenburg that have sprawling campuses reminiscent of small colleges.  CMS Chief Operating Officer Millard House says it’s too easy for intruders to get inside.  That’s where the 8 foot high fences come in.  

Lisa Miller

This week about 2,200 elementary school kids will be getting free laptops.  It’s part of the Project LIFT effort to boost learning at nine schools on Charlotte’s west side. 

These laptops are made for kids.  They’re white and green and sturdy. 

“It has the handles so it wouldn’t fall when I’m holding it because I really drop stuff without handles,” said Maya Dunbar, a third grader at Allenbrook Elementary. 

Winthrop University has named a new president.  Jayne Marie Comstock has served as a senior administrator at a handful of small universities. 

For the first time in twenty-four years, there will be a new face in the president’s house at Winthrop this summer.  Comstock is leaving her post at the American Council on Education to replace retiring president Tony DiGiorgio.  She says she’s long been impressed with the school and is eager to be a part of its next chapter.    

The number of applications to open charter schools has jumped significantly since the charter school cap was lifted in 2011.  There used to be a couple dozen applications per year.  This year 156 groups plan to apply and that means a whole lot of work for the people who review them. 

Joel Medley is in charge of the office that oversees all of the state’s charter schools.  This year, he expected to hear from a lot of groups wanting to open schools, but not quite this many. 

Tasnim Shamma

For almost a year, students at UNC Charlotte have been hard at work designing a solar house that is both affordable and energy-efficient. That hard work has paid off. Their design qualified for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon's biannual competition.  

For the next eight months, UNC Charlotte engineering and architecture students will be busy building the house. UNC Charlotte is one of only 20 teams to qualify for the competition.   

Ben Bradford/WFAE

A Gaston County martial arts instructor held a seminar a week ago for teachers about how to respond in a school shooting. First grade teachers, school nurses, and administrators practiced how to defend a classroom should a shooter try to enter, and how to fight back. Similar events have been popping up across the country, run by martial arts gyms, firearms training centers, and even schools, in the wake of Sandy Hook.

Courtesy of UNC Charlotte

The Levine Cancer Institute and UNC Charlotte are teaming up for a new project they hope will make a difference in the world of cancer research. It's called the Charlotte Pancreatic Cancer Project.

UNC Charlotte and the Levine Cancer Institute will be making $400,000 in grants available to scientists and doctors at both institutions. 

GonchoA / Flickr

Charter schools are supposed to offer a free, independent alternative to traditional public schools. North Carolina has just over 100 of them, and the state board of education is expected to approve 25 more at its February meeting.

Big companies, government offices, and media outlets like NPR often have ombudsmen – they’re trained to handle complaints and to try to resolve disputes. And universities are no exception: NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, and Duke all have them. The latest UNC system school to create an ombudsman position is Appalachian State University in Boone. The school has appointed a long-time professor to set up the office, Jim Barnes. He’s been on the job since January 1. He says complaints last year about a professor factored into creating his position, but the idea had been discussed for a while.  Barnes talks to Morning Editon host Duncan McFadyen about getting the office off the ground.

Four CMS schools that serve pre-k through 8th graders could move to a year-round calendar next year in an effort to boost learning.  The CMS school board plans to vote on the proposal tonight.

All kids have experienced the “summer slide.”  When students get back to school in the fall, they spend time re-learning what they forgot over the summer.  But for low-income kids, that backsliding can be even bigger since camp and other enriching activities are harder to come by.