CMS says it's ready for students to return back to school

CMS says it's ready for students to return back to school
Updated: Aug. 15, 2018 at 7:19 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) says it is ready for school to begin.  Most students return August 27.

Leaders held a back to school briefing Wednesday at Dilworth Elementary School at the Sedgefield Campus.  They informed the community of the changes students and parents will see.  CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox says safety is the district's top priority.  Wilcox says more cameras and stronger locks will come to schools to keep students safe.  Wilcox also says more changes will be visible on some campuses.

"There will be some fencing. There will be a number of different things. I don't want to get into a great detail right now because we haven't finished that, but we got our arms around the projects," CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said.

Mecklenburg County gave CMS millions of extra dollars to pay for security improvements.  CMS had to first submit a plan of how the money would be spent before receiving it. The school district says it will submit the plan in a few weeks.

CMS is expecting about 148,000 students.  Another way the district is helping to keep students safe is adding more counselors and social workers.  About 60 additional staff will be on hand to deal with the social and emotional needs of students.

"Having more counselors, social workers and psychologists means that student who may struggle with their feelings of disappointment or upset and who maybe prone to act out physically will have a better opportunity to learn how to solve their problems using their words," CMS Executive Director of Student Services Dr. Cotrane Penn said.

Schools will also go through active survival training so students and staff will know what to do in case danger comes to the school.

In addition to school safety, CMS is also tackling school bus safety.  More than 1,000 buses will be picking up about 100,000 students this school year. Last year there were issues of buses catching fire. Buses were checked but still no clear indication of what caused the fire.  Leaders are doing what they can to make sure buses are ready to roll out on the first day of school.

"We are following the guidelines recommended from the manufacturer as well as the Department of Public Instruction - for those inspections we've also implemented some additional measures of safety just to have some additional spot check inspections," CMS Executive Director of Transportation Adam Johnson said.

CMS says buses will have about 33,000 bus stops and will travel about 125,000 miles a day.

CMS leaders are expecting an exciting year. The school district is opening up three new schools: Charlotte East Language Academy, Villa Heights Elementary School and Wilson Middle School. Leaders say the schools will be ready when school opens.

On Wednesday, CMS leaders said the district had 78 teacher vacancies and about 44 bus driver openings.  The district hopes those positions will be filled by the first day of school.

Also new this year is an Ombudsman's Office.  The office will respond quickly to families that have issues and concerns with the school district.  Parents can call 980-343-0055 to get help.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.