CMS leaders discuss pressing issues with state lawmakers

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) and the Mecklenburg County Delegation met Thursday morning to discuss pressing issues facing the school district. It didn't take long for Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox to find out the type of relationship between board members and state leaders.

"It was interesting as the new person in town to feel the animosity that really exists between delegates and CMS," Wilcox said. "It's just another task. I have to build bridges."

Two issues discussed were Matthews and Mint Hill areas forming their own charter school district and the mandate for school districts to lower the class sizes of K3 students to 18 students per class. CMS board members told the politician both pieces of legislation were bad.

Representative Bill Brawley filed the Matthews-Mint Hill Charter Bill. CMS argues that bill would create a less diverse school area in Matthews and would be re-segregating of Mecklenburg County.

School leaders claim that would make a two-tiered system - suburban versus urban.

"On a personal level, I think anything that further segregates us and takes opportunities away from some kids is not a good piece of public policy," Wilcox said.

The bill is now in the Senate's control after it passed the House. CMS hopes that charter bill will fail in the Senate. School leaders are concerned, if the charter bill passes other municipalities could create charters. Brawley says it's up to CMS to make the bill to die.

"The people I represent put this issue on my desk," Brawley said. "They want other options. If CMS would address the needs of Matthews-Mint Hill, this would go away."

Parents in the Matthews-Mint Hill area say they want more magnet choices for the kids. Board members say they have heard the cries of parents and are working on their concerns.

Another issue discussed was the mandate to decrease class sizes. CMS says to fulfill that assignment, the district would have to hire 353 teachers. They say the state didn't give the district enough money to hire those teachers.

The school district says if state lawmakers don't change the law, it would be forced to create over-crowded classrooms for 4th and 5th graders, reassign students to less crowded schools, purchase more mobile classrooms, or eliminate PreK classrooms.

"In the days ahead - probably a little more difficult," Wilcox said.

After Thursday's meeting, there was no word how state lawmakers who were present will handle the issues facing CMS when they return to Raleigh.

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