Parents, students sound off at first CMS public hearing on changes

Parents, students sound off at first CMS public hearing on changes

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by Beth Shayne & Kellie Patterson / NewsChannel 36
E-mail Us: NEWS@WCNC.com

WCNC.com

Posted on October 7, 2010 at 11:33 PM

Updated Friday, Oct 8 at 4:55 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C.— Emotions ran high as parents and students pleaded with Charlotte-Mecklenburg school officials to reconsider cost-cutting proposals for several CMS schools.

The district held the first of six public comment sessions as it considers closing 12 schools and making boundary and program changes at 60 others.  
“It’s literally CMS’s little slice of heaven,” Davidson IB middle schooler Kate Elliott said outside the forum, “and they shouldn’t take that away from us.”
Davidson IB was perhaps the most controversial of seven schools slated to be discussed at Hopewell High School Thursday night. The district has suggested closing the old building, and transitioning the successful program to a partial magnet at Alexander Middle School, where more students could be let in off the lengthy wait list.
“A wait list is not an indication of a problem. It’s an indication of success,” one father protested.
“It’s unbelievable—the best middle school in CMS,” mom Pam Dolaher said, with tears in her eyes.
The district has elected to talk about a set of schools—grouped by geography—at each of its scheduled forums. Thursday night’s event also covered overcrowding at Torrence Creek and Hornet’s Nest Elementaries, a magnet move from Winding Springs Elementary to Marie G. Davis Military Academy, and the possibility of targeted assistance for North Mecklenburg High School and Ranson Middle School.
This is happening under the shadow of an expected multi-million deficit for next year. Speaking before the crowd Thursday, school board president Eric Davis framed it as a choice between closures and more classroom job cuts. “We simply have to find other alternatives for this coming year before we start impacting teachers,” he said.
A large crowd of teachers, students, and parents from E.E. Waddell High School also showed up at Thursday’s forum, though their school was not discussed.  CMS has scheduled five more public comment forums where board members will hear from people in other parts of the county.  
 
Student loves Davidson IB
 
Imagine starting your 7th grade year at a new middle school and loving it. Then, not even half way through the school year, you hear that your school may close.
               
That’s exactly what happened to a student at Davidson IB Middle School.
Isaiah Williams is a 7th grader at Davidson IB. He loves his school, and so do his parents.
"I have a little bit more freedom there when it comes to having time with my friends to go down to the soda shop or to the library," says Isaiah.
"After the first day he came home with a big smile on his face. He had met friends and almost instantly he got that sense of community at the school," says his mom Valerie Williams.
Last year he went to JM Alexander and doesn't want to go back
“It wouldn't be an empty feeling inside but it would be a lot different. But since I've already been to JMA I wouldn't be scared but I would be kind of nervous," Isaiah said.
CMS has recommended moving the Davidson IB magnet program, staff, and students to JM Alexander. They say it’s because the school is too old, too small, and too expensive.
Mrs. Williams says her son benefits greatly from the smaller class size at Davidson IB, and she doesn't want that to change.
"He doesn't get into any trouble, he’s very friendly, so those are the type of kids who can remain under the radar because they're not causing any problems. They don't present any learning challenges so you can definitely feel lost you can feel like a number."
Despite it all, Valerie says she’s trying to be realistic about the future.
“Ultimately it's about the program. Whatever we can do to keep him in the program, whatever we can do to help maintain that culture within Alexander, that’s kind of where our heart and head is.
For a list of which schools will be addressed at each meeting, visit http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/Pages/Default.aspx.
Thursday, Oct. 7 - 6-8 p.m.
Hopewell High (auditorium)
11530 Beatties Ford Road
 
Tuesday, Oct. 12 - 6-8 p.m.
CMGC- Room 267
600 E. 4th Street
 
Thursday, Oct. 14 - 6-8p.m.
Vance High (auditorium)
7600 IBM Drive
 
Wednesday, Oct. 20 - 6-8 p.m.
East Mecklenburg High (auditorium)
6800 Monroe Road
 
Thursday, Oct. 21 - 6-8 p.m.
West Mecklenburg High (auditorium)
7400 Tuckaseegee Road
 
Monday, Oct. 25 - 6-8 p.m.
South Mecklenburg High (auditorium)
8900 Park Road
 

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