CMS asks legislators to oppose bill that would allow Matthews, Mint Hill to operate charter schools

CMS asks legislators to oppose bill that would allow Matthews, Mint Hill to operate charter schools

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District is asking members of the Mecklenburg Delegation to vote against a bill that would permit the towns of Matthews and Mint Hill to operate their own charter schools.

Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor says Representative Bill Brawley introduced House Bill 514 in March with those towns in mind.

The bill could be put to a vote in Raleigh Wednesday and the CMS board wants legislators to oppose the bill.

In the "legislative alert" that was released Tuesday, CMS said the bill "would effectively create double-taxation for people in Matthews and Mint Hill."

"The operational funding stream proposed for these municipally funded schools is insufficient to fully support high-quality schools and educate children well," CMS officials said. "Instead, while taxpayer-provided operational funds would follow children as in every other charter school, funds for other necessities such as capital, transportation, and nutrition programs would have to come from diverted local property taxes, effectively forcing Matthews & Mint Hill residents to pay taxes for two government run schools systems at the same time."

CMS also said that HB514 would fail "to guarantee seats for students or to put quality education for kids first."

"While Matthews & Mint Hill residents would see their taxes additionally burdened, their children are not guaranteed the ability to attend these schools in return," CMS officials said. "Further, this bill promotes adoption of an experimental structure for K-12 students that is unproven and would set precedent to add more costly, more complex administrative and educational structures across the entire state and in every North Carolina community.  This bill adds zero to the promise of public education while nearly guaranteeing higher taxpayer burdens."

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Taylor said that if the bill is approved and the community wants the town to operate a charter school, Matthews will probably have a charter school company run the school. Taylor envisions the town will find land either in Matthews or Mint Hill and get an agreement with the land owner to possibly get a school built on that land.

The state would provide money to educate the students, but the towns would have to find money to pay for construction, maintenance, and other capital costs. Taylor believes if more money is needed, residents would give it - possibly through higher taxes.

"I am a proponent of CMS," Taylor said in March. "They do a tremendous job, but they do have some challenges and a lot of the challenge is with size. What we are trying to do in Matthews is not take over CMS, but offer additional options to families in Matthews."