MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. -- A high school on the UNC Charlotte campus, a manufacturing academy at Olympic High and new Montessori and math-science magnets are among the proposals for 2014-15 that Superintendent Heath Morrison will present to the school board Tuesday.
The new schools are part of the district’s push to offer public-school options to compete with charters and private schools while helping students develop skills for college and careers.
The school at UNCC would be an early college high school, a concept that has been popular in North Carolina for several years but hasn’t yet come to Mecklenburg County. Students take a mix of required high school classes and tuition-free college courses, earning up to two years of college credit. Unlike the middle college high schools on Central Piedmont Community College campuses, which are open only to juniors and seniors, students can enter early college high as freshmen.
If approved, the new school would be housed at UNCC’s Energy Production and Infrastructure Center, known as EPIC. It’s part of the school’s college of engineering.
Morrison said he’ll also propose a new Montessori magnet at Long Creek Elementary in Huntersville, opening with grades K-3 next August. Eventually he plans to create a Montessori high school at the old Derita school.
And he said he plans to add STEAM magnet programs – for science, technology, engineering, arts and math – at additional elementary and middle schools, which he declined to name last week. Morehead, a K-8 magnet that offers similar programs, is one of the district’s most popular, with hundreds of students on the waiting list.
Another plan calls for creating an academy of advanced manufacturing and entrepreneurship at Olympic High, which houses five small schools at the southwest Charlotte campus. Olympic already has partnerships with nearby high-tech manufacturers, many of them European-owned, that offer internships and apprenticeships.
The new academy would prepare students for well-paid manufacturing jobs, said Kevin Hobbs, the zone superintendent who oversees Olympic. He said the preliminary plan calls for merging Olympic’s international business and global studies schools, the two with the lowest enrollment and the most similar programs.
Hobbs said CMS is also looking at reorganizing the campus to make it easier for students to take classes in more than one academy and for administrators to consolidate some functions.
“We had five proms. We have five school newspapers,” Hobbs said. “We need to have a way that we are not five schools but we are one school with five programs.”
During preliminary meetings with faculty and students last week, Hobbs said many students were anxious about losing favorite teachers and administrators. While it’s too early to detail individual assignments, Hobbs said he does not anticipate losing large numbers of staff because of the changes. “I told them, ‘I see a lot of sad faces in the crowd. This is not a school closing meeting.’”
The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting does not call for the school board to vote on the proposals. However, the board would need to approve the plans soon to make the options available when students start applying for 2014-15 assignments in January.
The agenda also includes a discussion of student assignment policy and individual requests for boundary changes.