Voters approve $290 million school bond referendum; 17 projects - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Voters approve $290 million school bond referendum; 17 projects planned

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

Mecklenburg County voters said yes on Nov. 5 to the CMS $290 million bond request, giving the green light to 17 projects.

The projects were identified by the district as ways to expand academic options, relieve overcrowding and provide needed renovations and replacements for older buildings. 

Approximately 74% percent of participating voters supported the education bonds.

"We are very gratified and honored by the voters' strong support of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools," said Dr. Heath E. Morrison, superintendent. "We will use this money over the next four years to strengthen our academic programs and improve school environments for learning. We will also be better able to accommodate the steady enrollment growth we're experiencing each year."

The 17 projects address some of the highest-priority needs in the district, boosting academic programs and relieving years of overcrowding at some schools.

The projects also will renovate and replace several older schools.

Two-thirds of CMS schools are more than 30 years old, and 78 of the district's 160 schools are more than 50 years old. The 2013 bond request will help the district meet part of its $1.8 billion 10-year capital need.

The bond money will pay for three new schools. A new K-8 language immersion school will provide relief for overcrowding at Albemarle Road elementary and middle schools. A new Pre-K-8 will provide relief for overcrowding at Berryhill and Reid Park elementaries. A new Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Math (STEAM) school will provide relief to  Ballantyne, Elon Park, Hawk Ridge and Polo Ridge elementaries and to Community House and Jay M. Robinson middle schools.

The bond money will also pay for replacement of three existing schools, all built in the 1950s: J.M. Alexander Middle and Nations Ford and Statesville Road elementaries. 

Two new conversions, as well as the second phases of six others, are also planned: The Oakhurst/Starmount project will convert Oakhurst into a STEAM magnet and Starmount into an elementary school.

Davidson Elementary will become a K-8 school. The second phase of Pre-K-8 conversions will be completed at six elementary schools: Ashley Park, Bruns Avenue, Walter G. Byers, Druid Hills, Reid Park and Westerly Hills.

"All of these projects are important ones and will help us better educate our students," Dr. Morrison said. "We are very grateful for the widespread community support of the bonds and we look forward to strengthening our schools and educating every student, every day, for a better tomorrow."

The first installment of the bond money will become available July 1, 2014. Mecklenburg County will release the money to CMS, which will then begin working on facilities.

The first projects to be started include repurposing facilities at Oakhurst and Starmount Elementary and constructing replacement schools at Nations Ford Elementary and Statesville Road Elementary.

A complete list of the 2013 bond projects can be seen here.

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