CMS superintendent makes a house call - | WBTV Charlotte

CMS superintendent makes a house call

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV) (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) Superintendent Ann Clark made a house call Wednesday night. She spent more than two hours talking to parents about their concerns over Bruns Academy.

Bruns is the neighborhood school and parents interested in sending their children there are worried.

"Bruns is not currently at the academic performance level that I would hope for my own children," neighbor Hadley Quisenberry said. "I thought I chose to live here, why am I not doing anything about the school situation."

Quisenberry is not alone.  About 40 other neighbors showed up at Quisenberry's home to speak with Clark about their concerns.  They told Clark their expectations about Bruns and Clark responded.

"She told us, 'hey, we [CMS leaders] know Bruns is a failing school in a non-failing neighborhood,'" Biddleville-Smallwood Community Organization President Dr. Justin Harlow said, "and she said, 'we want to work with you.'"

Harlow said his neighborhood is thriving. New homes are being built and people are moving in. He also says the neighborhood is growing. Harlow tells us there have been eight births in the past eight weeks and there are about 60 kids under the age of five all living in the neighborhood.

"How can we keep residents here?" Harlow said. "Because otherwise when kids get 3, 4, 5 years old - they are going to start thinking about the schools are not where I want it to be."

Latest Bruns Academy test scores show in Reading that 20.7% of the students are proficient, and in Math 13.7% students are making the grade. Parents want change before sending their children to Bruns.

"Ann gave us a lot of hope," Quisenberry said. "And a lot of tangible ideas to move forward."

The parents were frank with the superintendent about their desires for Bruns.

"We would love to possibly see a partial magnet," Harlow said. "Possibly a full magnet at Bruns Academy."

"I want it to be an environment where all children can thrive," Quisenberry said. "And they have access to extra-curricular activities, gifted programs. Right now it is overcrowded and they can only offer the basics."

The parents also prefer Bruns to end at 5th grade instead of the current model of going to 8th grade. Parents want a neighborhood elementary school.

"I think K-5 could help us solve for some of the overcrowding issues," Quisenberry said. "And the lack of diversity in class offerings."

This means if CMS transforms Bruns Academy back into an elementary school, the district would have to find space for a new neighborhood middle school. That was discussed at the meeting.

"Can land be acquired," Harlow said. "Is there land already available. Can you re-activate a current building that can serve as a middle school. There are a lot of different options there. Ann was committed to exploring those options."

Parents told WBTV they felt hopeful about Clark's home visit, but will that hope fade. Clark's contract as CMS superintendent ends next year.

"We hope there will some type of fluidity - of course whoever the next superintendent is," Harlow said. "And also with board members."

Parents left the meeting with expectations from the district. They believe standing up for your neighborhood school  and getting results can be done in any community.

"Now to see what can happen," Quisenberry said. "Just from having passion and being driven to be an advocate."

Parents know change will not happen overnight. They say they are in it for the long haul.

"We want to make sure," Harlow said. "That we just get the best for our children."

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