CMS clarifies transgender policy, adds narcotics dog ahead of first day

Published: Aug. 17, 2016 at 7:38 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 17, 2016 at 8:20 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools starts a new year in less than two weeks, on August 29. Leading up to the big day, school leaders held a briefing Wednesday morning to update parents and teachers on important information.

Superintendent Ann Clark and other administrators spoke about student enrollment, teacher staffing and other important information at Kennedy Middle school.

According to officials, CMS expects to welcome more than 146,000 students this school year. That's about 500 more students than last year.

Nearly 1,400  teachers have been hired through transfer, promotion and internal and external methods for the new year, but there are still 114 vacancies.

When the conversation shifted to the education budget gap, Clark told WBTV they got additional help from the state. Instead of having to take away resources from students in the classroom, Clark cut back on budgets for department heads.

"We've tried to protect the school house at all costs," said Clark.

The district expects to have 1,050 buses in their fleet this school year but there are still 90 bus driver vacancies. Until the remaining numbers of drivers are hired CMS will be using substitutes and staffers with their CDLs.

"Every bus will roll," said Executive Director of Transportation, Janet Thomas. "It won't be with a permanent driver but it will be with a certified well-trained professional driver."

School officials say they are trying to fill the open positions in the classroom and on the bus lot through job fairs, social media and radio ads as well as word of mouth.

Superintendent Clark also clarified the school district's work with transgender children.

Clark said CMS won't employ a separate curriculum for transgender students but they will be following state guidelines on sports that say students are required to participate in athletics based on biological gender.

"It is my belief that if we are truly about every child everyday for a better tomorrow that every child means every child," said Clark.

She also said the school district held training for principals over the summer on proper ways to welcome transgender students and their parents.

Gage, a 2-year-old yellow lab, was also introduced at the gathering. Gage will be CMS' first narcotics dog. His handlers already said he has found small amounts of drugs in classroom searches. He will be a full-time drug sniffing dog for the school district.

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