Charlotte area students head back to school today

Charlotte area students head back to school today


by ANN DOSS HELMS / Charlotte Observer

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 4:07 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 26 at 9:40 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Free chicken biscuits will greet 144,000 students returning to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Monday, part of a new program to ensure that hunger doesn’t distract any child from learning.

Most of North Carolina’s 1.5 million public school students start classes Monday, joining South Carolina and private schools that have already opened.

CMS’ universal breakfast program, paid for with federal meal subsidies, will be the first sign of change to greet Mecklenburg students. The expanded breakfast program, which used to be available to low-income students, aims to remove the stigma and provide a boost of energy to all students who miss breakfast, even if it’s just because they’re rushing out the door.

“Hungry students can’t learn,” said Amy Harkey, assistant director of child nutrition. “Breakfast is part of the educational day.”

Across the region, laptops and tablets are displacing paper and textbooks as crucial classroom supplies.

All 160 CMS schools now have enough bandwidth to allow students to use their own devices or classroom computers for online learning. Wi-Fi in CMS mobile classrooms will be added over the next two years.

CMS students shouldn’t stuff a tablet or e-reader into their backpacks the first day. CMS is phasing in a “bring your own technology” program, but it’s up to each school to decide when and whether students can use their devices.

All schools have laptops, iPads or other devices to give students Internet access.

Mooresville is already a national pioneer in digital education, with students issued take-home laptops. Union County Schools will follow that lead, providing 26,000 laptops to students in grades 3-12 as school begins.

The digital revolution goes beyond the devices. Teachers are learning to use technology to reshape education. Expect to hear more about mastery education and blended learning – approaches that combine live teaching with computerized tests and lessons that let students move at their own pace.


CMS problems?

School begins Monday for most North Carolina students, including more than 140,000 in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (pre-K and kindergarteners start later). The CMS busing hotline, 980-343-6715, will take calls from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday. For CMS enrollment questions, call 980-343-5335. Go to for more contacts.


These are traditionally among the most-congested roads during the first few days of school:

• Alexanderana Road at Old Statesville Road: Heavy traffic from 6:30 to 9 a.m., with three nearby schools.

• Alleghany Street: Berry Academy and Harding University High traffic from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m.

• Bailey Road: Middle and high school traffic in Cornelius, 6:30-8:30 a.m.

• Beatties Ford Road: Heavy traffic between Brookshire Freeway and LaSalle Street, 6:30-7:30 a.m., near Northwest School of the Arts and West Charlotte High.

• Ardrey Kell Road (between Marvin and Community House roads): Heavy high school traffic from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. Also congested nearby on Community House Road, near Community House Middle School.

• Idlewild Road: Slow traffic after 8:30 a.m. at Idlewild Elementary, just off Independence Boulevard; also bad several miles to the east, near Queens Grant Charter High and Mint Hill Middle schools.

• Lawyers, Lebanon, Wilson Grove roads: Congested from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m., with Independence High and two other schools nearby.

• Park Road (south of Gleneagles Road): Three schools, including South Mecklenburg High, in the same area. Especially bad from 6:45 to 8 a.m.

• Pineville-Matthews Road: Congested from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. near Providence High, north of Providence Road.


Police will be running extra patrols in school zones and near school buses. Violating the 25-mph speed limit in school zones carries a $250 fine.

Passing a stopped school bus carries a five-point penalty on the driver’s license. Here is the rule on when to stop:

• If you’re on a two-lane road, a two-lane road with a center turn lane, or a four-lane road with no median, traffic in both directions must stop.

• If you’re on a four-lane road with a median or a four-lane road with a center turn lane, only traffic following the bus must stop.


• Cabarrus: 704-786-6191,

• Catawba: 828-464-8333,

• CMS:

• Gaston: 704-866-6117,

• Iredell-Statesville: 704-872-8931,

• Kannapolis: 704-938-1131,

• Lincoln: 704-732-2261,

• Mooresville: 704-658-2530,

• Union: 704-296-9898,