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Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools approves auction for 46,000 clear backpacks, other surplus items

School officials say the auction will take place either at the end of June or the first of July.
Charlotte Mecklenburg School approved a public auction on Tuesday to get rid of its 46,000 clear backpacks.
Published: Jun. 12, 2022 at 9:21 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School approved a public auction on Tuesday to get rid of its 46,000 clear backpacks.

District documents list the backpacks are listed as surplus property to be sold in an online bid auction. School officials say the auction will take place either at the end of June or the first of July.

The board voted 8-0 Tuesday night, approving the consent agenda which included the recommendation to approve the disposal of surplus property including student and staff desks, computers, library carts, and other items along with the clear book bags.

Last Wednesday, interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh confirmed the district would not be distributing the clear bookbags.

“I don’t think the clear backpacks will be an option as we go forward. We will be looking at other options as well as we go ahead. At this point this will not be one of the options afforded to our schools at this point,” Hattabaugh said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for CMS told WBTV:

“After exhausting options for return and resell, the superintendent’s recommendation to the Board of Education on Tuesday is dispersion of the inventory in surplus auction.”

The auction will be done online through the website GovDeals. According to CMS officials, surplus items are sold throughout the calendar year. Board documents revealed these auctions usually generate $500 to $15,000 in revenue, which is a big loss compared to the purchase price of $441,791.71 for the 46,000 bags.

Officials say the bags will be sold in boxes of 12 and 24.

CMS spent nearly $442,000 for about 46,000 clear backpacks in November. The bags were delivered in the spring and were intended to be distributed in a pilot program for Cochrane Collegiate Academy and Hopewell High School.

District leaders initially ordered these clear backpacks for security reasons after incidents of guns and other weapons being found in backpacks.

At least 30 guns were found on CMS campuses during the 2021-22 school year.

In March, CMS officials told parents in an email that they discovered most backpacks contained a warning tag required by Proposition 65 for California residents. They immediately paused the rollout of the bags.

The book bags were met with criticism from parents and students this year after concerns about privacy and students sneaking weapons into school.

“In my opinion, they’re a no-go. I don’t think that they’d work because I wouldn’t everyone seeing all of my personal business in there,” said recent Phillip O’Berry Academy of Technology graduate Sydney Tillman.

Some parents called for CMS to use its remaining federal COVID Relief funds for more mental health support to combat violence at the source.

“It’s imperative that we are proactive and not reactive,” said CMS parent Kimberleigh Hogan-Lee.

Interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh says the district is continuing its commitment to safety with active survival training and random safety screenings along with support from outside agencies.

“We are currently working with local and state security experts to conduct reviews of schools and there certainly will be identified areas for potential improvements that will take both financial and human resources to address,” Hattabaugh said.

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