Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents, board shares frustrations over magnet school recommendations

CMS is voting on these recommendations at the Nov. 9 board of education meeting
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders are closing in on big decisions on new magnet programs for your children next year.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:34 AM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders are closing in on big decisions on new magnet programs that students can participate in next school year.

At Tuesday night’s board of education meeting, parents and board members heard a presentation on the recommendations for magnet program changes at E.E. Waddell High School and Lincoln Heights Elementary, and adding an early college at the central campus of Central Piedmont Community College.

These changes would go into effect for the 2023-2024 school year.

There is a career and technical education recommendation for E.E. Waddell. These courses would include includes aviation, avionics, customer relations management, graphic, and digital design.

In addition to the CTE courses, the PACE Academy for newcomer students who speak multiple languages will also be added to E.E. Waddell. There is a recommendation to offer a virtual academy for grades sixth through 12th.

Many board members shared their concerns saying they wanted Waddell to be a magnet program mainly for CTE but not include extra programs. Many of them also shared concerns about it only being open for grades ninth and 10th, and not the full ninth through 12th.

The current virtual academy at E.E. Waddell is currently open for students in grades fifth through 12th. With these changes, CMS has recommended closing the Performance Learning Center. Those students would be given priority to transfer to E.E. Waddell for the virtual academy or other magnet programs.

CMS is also recommending moving staff and students from Trillium Springs Montessori School to Lincoln Heights Elementary School. This would expand the school by three classrooms. The district says Trillium Springs is in high demand.

Many parents expressed their frustrations about losing their school, community, and support.

“This is now our family’s eighth year at Trillium. I want free Montessori for everyone; however, there are some issues with this proposal,” said TSM parent Julie Kelly.

Others said this would create even longer bus and car rides to and from school, creating transportation challenges for students.

“There is a transportation hardship with this move for many parents. Lincoln Heights is a 22-minute commute from TSM, not taking into account I-77 traffic,” said TSM parent Bennie Barker.

Other concerns from parents include Montessori teachers being required to participate in the same state training as traditional teachers, which they say is unnecessary and adds to their workload.

Additionally, many of them expressed their frustration with TSM not having enough qualified Montessori teachers to move to Lincoln Heights.

“If there is a pipeline of Montessori-trained, certified teachers where are they now? We have an amazing principal but she does not yet have cloning capabilities,” Kelly said.

Board member Rhonda Cheek, who represents District One, shared her frustrations, saying she did not support the superintendent’s recommendation as she believes it would hurt the students and families.

“This decision was made behind closed doors without even the engagement of the district representative that fought so hard to get the school. I do not support this in any way, shape, or form,” Cheek said.

There is another recommendation to open an early college on the central campus of Central Piedmont Community College. It would open with students in grades ninth through 11th. This would be at the Worrell Building on Elizabeth Street.

CMS is voting on these recommendations at the Nov. 9 board of education meeting.