Lawmakers push pause on House Bill 514

Lawmakers push pause on House Bill 514

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - North Carolina State lawmakers say House Bill 514 was too controversial to discuss right now. Lawmakers could discuss it and make a decision when legislators reconvene in January.

If approved, House Bill 514 would create a Charter School District for Matthews/Mint Hill neighborhoods. Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District (CMS) sent a legislative alert to lawmakers informing them this could mean double taxation for residents. They would not only have to pay Mecklenburg County taxes, but possibly higher taxes in Matthews if more money is needed to fund education.

"I think they raise taxes anyway. At least I will know where it's going, and it benefits my family," taxpayer Ian Ray said.

CMS says more money will be needed to provide buildings, transportation, and food. The district estimates it could cost about $200 million to provide new schools for the 6,000 students attending a CMS school in Matthews/Mint Hill.

CMS believes if House Bill 514 passes, those 6,000 students would no longer be part of CMS.

"If you are setting up your own charter system, the expectation is from CMS is that you are going to serve all of your students. All Matthews kids would be coming out," CMS School Board Chairperson Mary McCray said.

Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor says it's too early to decide if there would be higher taxes. He does claim this is his first time hearing CMS oppose the bill.

"Now all of a sudden they have this major objection, which sends a signal to me that they are concerned and they're worried that this possibly would have some legs and get some support and would be a challenge to what they are doing," Taylor said.

McCray disagrees and argues CMS has voiced their opposition to local leaders from the beginning. She is concerned about the meaning of passing the bill.

"What does it say to the general public?" McCray said. "It says we want our own segregated system. If that's what they want, I can't stop them from that."

Taylor says instability is the reason for House Bill 514. He is fearful of another student assignment plan that could change boundaries and switch students' schools.

"There's nothing in place today that guarantees families that buy into our communities that their children would go to those schools next year, the year after or two or three years down the road," the mayor said.

CMS says it has worked very hard to stabilize boundaries and adds in the last student assignment plan Matthews/Mint Hill areas weren't touched.

McCray also wants taxpayers to know if House Bill 514 gets approved, they could miss out on opportunities CMS currently provides.

"We have some very good curriculum programs that we offer," McCray said. "Would they be able to offer that to their students?"

CMS says it will continue to speak out against House Bill 514 while Matthews' mayor says local officials will also press lawmakers to pass it.

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