Buyer completes purchase of clear backpacks from CMS, students weigh in on safety measures

Famous Mart in Charlotte paid a grand total of $95,625 on July 26 for the bags.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is one step closer to getting thousands of clear backpacks off its hands.
Published: Jul. 26, 2022 at 6:34 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is one step closer to getting thousands of clear backpacks off its hands.

On Friday, July 22, the district approved the $85,000 bid that the final buyer made on the bags last Monday.

CMS auctioned the bags and other surplus items on during a two-week auction that ended on July 19.

On Tuesday, July 26, WBTV’s education reporter Courtney Cole requested and retrieved the bill of sale document confirming the purchase.

According to the document, Famous Mart in Charlotte paid a grand total of $95,625 on July 26 for the bags. This price also included the buyer’s premium of $10,625.

CMS spent nearly $442,000 for about 46,000 clear backpacks in November, WBTV previously reported. 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.

[PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools approves auction for 46,000 clear backpacks, other surplus items]

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

The bags were paid for with local funds.

East Mecklenburg High School rising senior Benjamin Goguen feels the money could’ve been spent on other initiatives.

“They sold them for very little than what they purchased them for and all that money could’ve gone to better causes,” he said.

Northwest School of the Arts rising sophomore Stuart Graham said she felt the bags weren’t worth the hassle.

“I felt like the clear backpacks almost invaded a lot of students’ privacy in their life, because things such as feminine hygiene products or even their work could be seen by anyone in the school,” she said.

While Goguen and Graham weren’t fans of the backpacks, both believe the body scanners are worth the money.

Twenty-one high schools including Goguen’s have scanners now. The scanners were installed in April.

In a few months, more than 50 schools including K-8, middle, and the remaining high schools will have them too.

According to the purchase order documents WBTV obtained Tuesday, 52 schools will receive training and scanners next school year.

“I like the ideas they do have, I like the body scanners they do work,” Goguen said.

In May, CMS staff at Phillip O’Berry Academy of Technology found a loaded gun inside of a student’s backpack as they were walking through the scanner.

CMS also doubled its random safety screenings in response to finding more weapons on campus. A district spokesperson confirmed 62 safety screenings were done during the 2021-2022 school year.

Graham believes they should be done more often to catch weapons, especially in schools like hers that don’t have scanners yet. Northwest School of the Arts is a 6-12th grade school.

“What’s the chance [the screening is] going to be done the day someone has a gun or drugs, it’s very rare,” Graham questioned.

Goguen wants all of his peers to be mindful of their actions and keep weapons and violence out of schools.

“Follow the rules, they’re implementing rules in the first place and I feel like if we all follow the rules there isn’t the risk of these weapons coming in,” he said.

The first day of school for the 2022-2023 school year is August 29.

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