Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' $922 million bond passes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) is celebrating its $922 million bond referendum that was passed Tuesday night. About 75 percent of the voters approved the referendum.  The bond will fund 29 projects, build 17 new schools and renovate 12 schools.

CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says he hopes the new facilities will inspire students and encourage teachers.

"We hope that teachers will have 21st century classrooms, that they have the technology that they need to educate kids for the 21st century," Wilcox said.

This is the largest CMS bond referendum voters had to decide. School leaders believe the passage of the bonds says a lot.

"People believe in their local schools," Wilcox said. "They believe in their school system. We are pleased, but we know we have a lot of work to do."

Bond supporters watched the election results at Dilworth Neighborhood Grill Tuesday.

The bond campaign raised about $400,000 to get the bonds passed.  CMS leaders say the $922 million bond is just a down payment on what the school system needs.  The district has about $2 billion worth of capital needs.

"Even though we have this, our needs are still mounting everyday, but at least this is going to take some of those needs off the table," CMS School Board Chairperson Mary McCray said.

School leaders say now that the bonds have been passed, the work begins.  Land needs to be purchased for the new schools and more planning will happen.

Some voters in Lake Norman, Cornelius, and Huntersville voted against the bonds.  They didn't approve of the process and felt their neighborhoods were left out of the nearly billion dollar bond package.  The superintendent has a message for those voters.

"We want to thank them for engaging in the process," Wilcox said. "We are not always going to see things the same way, but I do think that what they ought to do is take some heart in the fact passing this bond tonight - the rest of the community has moved their projects up on the list, so they are next."

Construction on one of the new schools could start as early as 2018 and the last anticipated date for the opening of a new school associated with this bond is in 2023.

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