Monday, August 9, 2010

Schools looking shabby?

I've been hearing complaints off and on for months about the declining state of maintenance at some Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. At first they focused on athletic facilities; now I'm hearing the lawns at some schools are starting to look like an African savannah.

CMS started cutting maintenance and groundskeeping staff in 2009 as a means of tightening the belt without hitting classrooms. The challenge is, the district has 170-plus schools and I don't have time to scour the county making drop-in visits.

Many of you have first-hand experience with schools. What are you seeing? Are conditions bad, and if so, are there specific schools and locations we should check?

If you have pictures of problems, e-mail them to me at ahelms@charlotteobserver.com (please size them down for e-mail to avoid overloading my limited inbox).

94 comments:

Merlin69 said...

Can anyone there even spell maintenance, let alone do any. I am in and out of gyms all spring and summer for AAU and the lack of upkeep is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Montclaire Elementary School's yard looks bad enough to be reported to the county if it were a private residence. I can understand the need to cut back, but this is ridiculous!

Anonymous said...

North Meck and JM Alexander deserve a complete renovation with dire care given to lawn maitneance and beautification.

Cranky Yankee said...

All too often maintenance budgets are the first ones cut without regard to the impact. I've worked in a number of school systems where maintenance wasn't a priority and the only maintenance that was done was usually in response to inspections by the health or fire departments. Many of these systems had to replace buildings prematurely because of the lack of maintenance over the decades.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know why there are schools that remain standing but are not being used? For example my old school Pinewood Elementary built a new facility on the same grounds but never tore down the old building. I don't know exactly why the new one was built I loved the old building and it makes me sad to see it empty. The same thing has happened at First Ward Elementary uptown. Maybe if we were using the space we have instead of creating space that isn't needed we wouldn't be so broke.

Anonymous said...

I tutor regularly at Westerly Hills Elementary and it is immaculately clean. To me, this is evidence of a diligent staff that takes pride in the school (from the Principal down through the custodial staff). I haven't been there during the summer so I don't know how the grounds are faring.

wiley said...

2005 and 2007 Bond Packages

56% of voters rejected a $427 million bondBond (finance)
In finance, a bond is a debt security, in which the authorized issuer owes the holders a debt and, depending on the terms of the bond, is obliged to pay interest and/or to repay the principal at a later date, termed maturity...
package in 2005 to improve facilities and build new schools for the first time in a decade. Dissenters cited spats between members of the school board and other well-publicized events that year hurting their confidence in the district's ability to spend money effectively. A $516 million dollar bond package was backed by 68% of voters in November 2007.

Here is a link to what was proposed and voted on in 2007:

http://www.tueforumclt.org/NewsPages/07Q2NewsPages/070517SchoolBondsProposal.htm

West Meck High School was to receive $5 million for a new stadium. They still don't have it but doesn't that seem like a waste of money when Smith Academy looks like it's about to fall apart on the exterior?

North Meck & Alexander?

Alexander Graham Middle renovations2007 bond projected cost $8,856,000

North Meck renovations 2007 cost (PE) $2,900,000

Anonymous said...

This is a foreign concept, but perhaps in a depressed economy, some spending must be prioritized? For example, for learning would be 1) motivated students 2) motivated teachers 3) textbooks and workbooks. Bottom of list, lawn maintenance and beautification.

Anonymous said...

I can tell you that Ardrey Kell Highschool's grounds are disgusting and also Ballantyne Elementary. A few of the trees that were planted when the school was built are now dead and sliding down the hill that they were built on. I am in the School district, and can honestly say that I would not want my now two year old going to this elementary for fear that he would get lost among the growing weed field that surrounds the school. Ballantyne elementary is a brand NEW school and should be upkept or it will start falling into the ground just like most of Charlotte Meck. schools. If you wonder why no-one wants their kids in the Mecklenberg county school system you should take a drive around all the local schools. It would be a nice (not really) day trip to make just to see how shanty the grounds are at most of the schools.

Linnea said...

I agree with anon 1:12 regarding pretty lawns. Charlotte as a whole (including the school system) needs to stop fussing about style and start working on substance. Education should take priority over grass and shrubs.

The interiors of the schools are different. They should be as clean as possible for health and safety reasons.

Anonymous said...

Also...Maybe the PTA's could come up with some kind of Donation/ community service day one weekend day per month where the parents could go out to their kids school and plant flowers/ clip trees/ weedeed...ect. It would be minimal cost if everyone brought they're own equipment and it would also get the parents involved with the school. I know it would make me proud as a parent to know my childs school at least looked nice.

Anonymous said...

This is not a new issue for CMS. When we moved here in the 90's we were appalled at the condition of many schools, urban and suburban. But it didn't seem to be a big deal to old timers around here--guess they were used to it. I thought things had improved during over the past 8 years--it would be a shame to go back to old ways.
Incidentally it's not just schools looking shabby. Concrete medians on the roads out where I live are weed infested. Planted medians and dividers are unkempt. I'm embarrassed to have out of town guests see this. Complained about this several years ago and it took me weeks to find someone to accept responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Hopewell High School has the same characteristics mentioned above. Tall weeds and huge bare spots. When it rains the kids track mud all over the school as they move from the school to mobile units and back (I guess that will stop this year thought)The trees and landscaping that were planted when the school was built seem to have never been attended to since. Most of the trees are either dead or just look like big weeds b.c their trunks are now covered rogue branches from the ground up.
I think the best solution is the PTA suggestion made above by Anon 1:20. At the middle schools and high schools, student clubs could do some of the work as a service project as well.

Anonymous said...

Davidson Elementary has a group meeting tonight to help spruce
up our school. We will try to tackle 5 key project areas around the school. I agree - the lack of upkeep is disgusting and embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

BEFORE CMS laid-off maintenance staff....

I voluntarily ran an elementary dance & drama club that met 3 mornings a week before school started (late start-time school). My family purchased some professional equipment to be installed on the stage. The first thing I had to do was get permission from the principal to make this happen - no problem on this front. From here, I had to fill out a work order form and wait a number of weeks for some central CMS maintenance official to show up. This person then had to contact his supervisor for another round of visits. After this, I was required to provide documentation that the equipment being installed was "equitable". I then had to contact numerous schools, magnet and non-magnet, to find out how many had similar equipment. Once I was able to confirm that some other schools had the same equipment, I had to fill out another form. Several more weeks went by before two people showed up to install the equipment (wall mounted double bracket ballet barres - no electricity required). Afterwards, the equipment had to be inspected and officially authorized for use. The day of a performance with over 200 kids in it, a separate CMS inspector decided to show up and throw his weight around threatening to cancel a performance on the spot that the school's music teacher and I spent several months preparing. Thank God for a well experienced principal who was about to retire who intervened and made the inspector go away. I fixed the non-issue the next day at 6:30 AM.

On a positive note, the school janitor could not have been more helpful except he had to report to the same central maintenance bureaucrats I had to deal with.

Standing in line at the DMV office off of Arrowood Rd. for 5 days would have been preferable.

Thank God for PTA beautification committees and Boy Scout Eagle projects as far as maintaining and enhancing other parts of a school not affiliated with a bare minimum stage.

Anonymous said...

Beverly Woods Elementary, across from the Harris Y, could be a photo op. Frankly, the shabby lawns are the perfect visual of the waning commitment to sufficiently fund public education. The grass will be the least of our concerns if we do not turn that tide.

Anonymous said...

When I went to one of the community meetings at South Meck High I couldn't believe the parking lot...looked like the concrete was splitting apart and disintegrating with weeds pushing through it. I'm sure cars take a beating there. Also, Olde Providence Elementary's parking lot is pretty bad from what I drove over during summer softball games.

One nice thing to say about a CMS maintenance staff: Providence High School's inhouse staff is very nice and helpful with booster and PTA events - providing tables, sweeping up...thanks to them. At PHS, the PTSO and National Honor Society are active in keeping grounds. Otherwise the entrances would be mud-eroded messes. Thanks again.

More telling, if it weren't for the PTSO, my kid wouldn't have a place to eat lunch. The outside picnic tables were provided by the PTSO to help ease the fact that most kids eat OFF THE FLOOR at that school. Now, there's a facilities and maintenance issue!

Anonymous said...

Am glad others have noticed. My family has been considering a move to Charlotte and we drove to Sharon Elementary to view the school. It looked abandoned! I don't think landscaping should be a high priority when school isn't in session, but at a minimum, the schools should be kept in presentable conditions.

A few reductions in the high salaries at the district level is all it would take. The multitude of 6-digit salaries at the district level is unbelievable! How is it that we maintain talented teachers for a fraction of these salaries?

Anonymous said...

Interesting that many of these tales are not about high poverty schools. Gasp--South Meck, Providence, Beverly Woods, Davidson! I though we neglected high poverty schools and the suburban schools were palaces. Get the word out, Ann!

Anonymous said...

Thats where the neighborhood school concept is such an excellent solution to solving school problems.

Neighborhoods need to hold School Habitat for Humanity work days for their neighborhood schools on Saturdays and do all needed maintenance including all scrub work on the interior and exterior plus repair work.

Ask Not What Your School System Can Do For You But Ask What YOU Can Do For YOUR School System !!!!!

Now get your lazy fat butts to work helping out ... It takes a village neighborhood.

Thats the "good" socialist way. Some socialism is actually good.

FlyGracefully said...

Hands on Charlotte already does work with some of the poorest charlotte schools.

Smith Academy looks horrible most of the year. I think they mowed the grass twice this year.

Providence HS usually looks fine.

I don't drive by many other schools, but hopefully I will be able to participate with Hands on Charlotte again to help some schools.

wiley said...

Anonymous said...
August 9, 2010 2:15 PM
Thats the "good" socialist way. Some socialism is actually good.


Feel free to pick the pockets of your like-minded socialist friends but stop trying to pick mine.

We've already passed bonds to fix many of these problems which have yet to materialize.

As far as I am concerned, they can let every tree and blade of grass die until the school board and CMS get a clue about how to educate our kids instead of using them as social experiments as they have for the past 40 years.

Spend the money to make every school as close to equivalent as possible with quality teachers, clean classrooms and HVAC systems that work.

Football stadiums, sports programs, trees and grass are expendable.

If you think not, never write here again complaining about teacher layoffs.

Anonymous said...

The "socialist" way would require the "rich" to pay more to fix the problem.

The "conservative" way would be the school families get together and do it themselves. (conserving funds)

Ann Doss Helms said...

2:12, I was just making that observation to my editor. But then I had to ask myself whether the suburban schools look worse or whether suburban parents/residents are just more likely to read and comment on this blog.

I did get one call saying "the low-performing schools" have been neglected, but no specifics.

Anonymous said...

Of course the appearance of a scholl will not always dictate the quality inside but certainly would give the idea that someone does not care. A well groomed outside suggests that the administration wants people to see their school in a good light. It is no different than other busnesses that keep their property well maintained. It shows pride and success. I would want my school to do the same.

Anonymous said...

The general maintenance of a school DOES reflect the kind of parents, staff, students and administrators who inhabit it.

I've been to very old schools with minimal renovations but with pretty flowers planted out front, a decent looking American flag flown from an operable flagpole and other indicators that suggest the people inside care about details and how their school is perceived by the outside world. And as they say, the devil is in the details.

I've also been to newer schools that look like battlefields. Not surprisingly, these schools generally do not perform near the top on scales of academic performance.

It's about taking some pride in the school you attend. I wouldn't show up to a job interview wearing a sloppy outfit. Speaking of....

How about the attire of some teachers? Teachers, if you want to be treated like a professional, dress like one! I've seen art and PE teachers who make a point of looking professional during meetings with parents and other teachers. I'm sorry, but jeans are not acceptable unless they're being worn under a smock at the pottery wheel. Male teachers, wear a tie. It won't kill you. Principals? Thank goodness most of you know how to dress.

Anonymous said...

This may sound awful, but it's summer. Who cares what it looks like when the kids are out of school and the facilities are not being used. Grass grows, nature does it thing and the important thing is that we take care of it before the kids are there. Now, there are a lot of good points about dead trees and shrubs, etc that groundskeeping could take care of, but that's a bonus issue at this time.

Ann, have you been inside schools? Tons of schools (urban and suburban) that I've worked at have had shoddy furniture, desks with drawers that fall off or don't exist, tables with legs that fall over if you accidentally touch it the wrong way, etc. There is no ability to buy new furniture ever outside of the initial shotty furniture you get (that may as well be from Wal-mart with its quality) when you open a new school. Many classrooms scrounge around for desks, tables, chairs, and adequate furniture for teachers and students and to get even basic maintenance service (AC repair, bathroom leaks and broken toilet repair, etc) takes weeks if not months. Our school has two beautification days, but there is always more to do than there is time to do it. We won't even attempt to go into the levels of bureaucracy because the people who maintain the school (and wonderful people they are, most of them work hard and are very accomodating to meet the needs of the students, parents, and teachers) can't touch the outside even if they wanted to. Somehow, that doesn't make sense to me.

But then again, in this economy, I'd rather there be enough teachers and school-based support staff to educate students and maintain safety...

Ann Doss Helms said...

And we all laughed when James Ross brought this up, but it's true: The clocks in schools almost never work! I wonder why that is. Do classroom and hall clocks run on batteries that are very hard to change once they run out?

Eric said...

Someone may have already posted this, but Beverly Woods Elementary, across the street from the Harris YMCA, is looking abandoned.

I figured it had to do with cuts. My first thought was, "I wonder what tourists think about our city when they see the state of our schools in the summer."

Anonymous said...

Over this past school year, the grass at Selwyn Elementary was only cut once every 6 weeks or so. At times it was 3 feet high. The teachers were afraid for the children to play on the playground for fear they would be bitten by a snake. The grass at Beverly Woods Elementary is easily 3 feet. My 12 year old son gasped as we drove by it yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Well - get out there and cut it - quit complaining and take ownership in your childs education and give back to the public shools. If you are bothered by it's apperance do something about is... We have a clean up day at our school every year only to get a handful of parents and kids out there. Do more to help other than complain.

Anonymous said...

Montclaire Elementary looks horrible. I was passing by yesterday thinking, "Maybe I should send my husband out there to mow the lawn!"

Do HOAs have any say in this?

Anonymous said...

I understand putting books over beautification. But, I was really surprised by the condition of Bain Elementary. We are new to the area and Matthews/Mint Hill was picked because of their "excellent" schools. I actually drove past the school thinking it was the "old" Bain because it looked abandoned! Allowing weeds and grass to reach 18-24 inches goes beyond superficial concerns. The place looked like a breeding ground for rodents and snakes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you anon 3:00...who CARES what the schools look like outside in the summer? The grasses will all be cut just before school begins and I guarantee that if ANY of you posting actually took a moment to walk INSIDE these schools, you would see how clean, newly waxed and spotless they are at this point!! Community House is absolutely gorgeous inside thanks to an amazing custodial staff and I could care less about pulling up to a few dead weeds out front. You private school snobs can just keep driving past the wonderful CMS schools as far as I am concerned.

wiley said...

Anonymous said...
Well - get out there and cut it - quit complaining and take ownership in your childs education and give back to the public shools. If you are bothered by it's apperance do something about is... We have a clean up day at our school every year only to get a handful of parents and kids out there. Do more to help other than complain.

August 9, 2010 3:22 PM


That sounds noble but without CMS permission you'd be charged with trespassing and it could be a liability issue.

Furthermore, you would be putting another person out of a job who does cut the grass, either by a CMS or County employee or a sub-contractor.

Anonymous said...

Most of these comments are about the lawn. Coulwood Middle school has a terrible mold problem and poor air quality. At least your kids are breathing easy.

Anonymous said...

Community House Middle School Needs their grass cut, Actually it more like weeds. I don't think it has been cut once this summer. I'm not at all surprised this is probably due to budget cuts, but you have to at least cut the grass.

Anonymous said...

There are schools with mold, mice, and roaches. The lawns do look horrible, but some of the buildings on the inside are disgusting. Also, some schools have furniture from 1950, but the warehouse is stocked with brand new furniture with shrink wrap. I guess it all depends on where your child goes to school.

Anonymous said...

The other schools need to take it upon themselves to help with the maintenance at their schools. This past Saturday over 200+ people including the principal(Mark Bosco) showed up at Independence High School to do a school wide clean up day. We worked for over 4 hours and got alot done that the system would never do. We had the PTSA, AIS, Boys Soccer Team, Parents and Staff all working together to try and spruce up a 43 year old school that was promised bond money in 1997 that we have NEVER seen. Way to go BIG.

Anonymous said...

Can CMS effectively manage the largest taxpayer investment in Mecklenburg County, school properties? If CMS cannot mow the lawn, keep mold out, or provide working heating, how can they educate? A good property management organization caring for facilities might provide CMS time to write a more effective theory of action or maybe time to focus on advancing education.

Anonymous said...

Our school PTA, staff, and kids all help to keep the grounds nice throughout the year. Sure, its not gorgeous, but it is good enough. We have a garden and a nature trail for the kids to get their science hands on as well! Make the outdoors a learning tool, people!!!

Anonymous said...

Tall weeds, shiny interiors? Heating in the summer? Anyone tried to look at playgrounds behind the weeds? I think they need more mulch and less trash.

Anonymous said...

Ann, I'm 2:12. I don't think the issue is whether suburban or urban schools are more neglected right now. They probably all are! I just drove past Providence Springs and the grass is high there and beds are weedy. But it doesn't look horrible, partly because it's in a rather rural setting and you can't see the school from the road.
I didn't mean to turn this into an urban/suburban issue--just commenting that too many people have gotten the idea over the past few years that the suburbs get everything; the inner city schools are neglected. I think there is enough neglect right now to go all around--people need to see what's happening everywhere.
One pertinent question might be--has this occurred every summer or is this something new this year?

Anonymous said...

CMS should consider outsourcing maintenance if they do not do so already.

In fact, they should consider outsourcing everything except in-school faculty and staff.

And fewer administrators in the home office please.

Anonymous said...

To wiley - Alexander Graham and JM Alexander are two different schools. JM Alexander is in Huntersville, near North Meck High.

Anonymous said...

When central maintenance personnel is more concerned about wall mounted ballet barres (installed on an empty stage) ruining the structural integrity of a brand spanking new school and the fact some simple wood poles might not be "equitable", than perhaps this explains the lack of yard work being completed at other locations. It's a good thing CMS inspector Clouseau failed to notice the spectacular paper backdrop an art teacher had kid's paint for an elementary school production that wasn't flame resistant!

wiley said...

Anonymous said...
To wiley - Alexander Graham and JM Alexander are two different schools. JM Alexander is in Huntersville, near North Meck High.

August 9, 2010 4:51 PM


I know they are. My response was giving information to someone who asked specifically about those two schools in a previous post.

I posted the link for the 2007 bond referendum that showed what schools were supposed to get how much in funding for upgrades.

Anonymous said...

Montclaire is horrible. A big, overflowing dumpster has been parked in the front lawn, the grass is never mowed, trash and glass all over the playgrounds.

Anonymous said...

Monclaire Elementary School's appearance is an embarrassment to the neighborhood. Everyday I drive past this school I am ashamed for our community. Interestingly enough, the lawns at Myers Park Traditional School are very well maintained.

Anonymous said...

The community should take pride in the school and all it takes is to talk with the principal or the PTA president and volunteer some time.

I'll bet you that the football fields are in beautiful condition.

The lawn and landscaping is only a small part of the issue.

The inside of the schools is a different matter. The last time I volunteered at McClintock the halls were strewn with litter, the entry way was black with ABC gum, the floors, walls and windows were so disgusting that cockroaches wouldn't live there. Don't even start me on the condition of the furniture in the front office; I wouldn't let my mud soaked dog sit in one for fear of what she would pick up. The cafeteria and the gym are worse. I always make sure that I go to the restroom before I leave home, because I have no intention of even using the bathroom there. And what's with all the lights out?

My niece and nephew refuse to drink or eat anything for breakfast or lunch because they don't want to use the toilets at McClintock and Eastway.

Eastway and Albemarle aren't much better. I watched a custodian wax over filth and dirt in the main hall way.
What message does that send to our children. And believe me, they do notice!!!

Anonymous said...

Hats off to Ed at Endhaven Elementary. I don't know if you're still at this school, but you were the BEST head custodian ever! I'll never forget our song and dance routine performed on closed circuit TV. I think my children may have finally recovered from embarrassment. I hope you're still playing the saxophone. Go Cougars!

Sincerely,
The Drama Queen

Anonymous said...

South Meck is a hole. Roach and rat city. Even the new technology building has water stained leaky suspended ceiling tiles. The teacher workroom near the AP's offices is filthy, cluttered, and smells.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone contacted their school board members about this? About 8 years ago a former board member (then a current board member) took me on a tour of some of the schools in her district. I couldn't believe the poor condition of some of them--echoed in many ways what 5:06 was saying. However, at these schools, the office staff would tell me that things had been like this for years. How come that board member wasn't yelling and screaming about the state of her schools or else rounding up civic organizations to help out? How come that's not going on now? Or have board members already been informed about the state of school grounds and accept that this is necessary during these hard times? Perhaps someone within CMS needs to address this issue with the public--explain what the heck is going on.

Anonymous said...

Break up CMS into 7 or 8 school systems. Keep purchasing, C&I and maybe a few others centralized for economies of scale. You would create accountability in the smaller areas, and many, many things would improve.
We do not need multiple area superintendents PLUS Gorman.

Anonymous said...

The board members are aware of the state of our schools. Building and maintenance apparently is not a priority for them. Our BOE is unconcerned, unmotivated and ill-informed about most things.

And Gorman only cares about making himself look good. He doesn't give a rats behind about landscaping.

Mold in schools? Wonder if OSHA knows about this?

Ghoul said...

I notice the grass is immaculate at the central office and at the SW district office.

Anonymous said...

How about some work crews from the local prison - especially in the summer when being around children is not a big issue. They could come on the weekends - that would be better for school schedules anyway!!

Anonymous said...

At Independence, clocks were not installed in the new building built in 2003 because the principal felt the kids would work to the bell if there wasn't a clock to remind them class was almost over. For the most part, the condition of the grounds is for visitors and parents. Kids spend little time outside. A disgusting inside (often the result of belligerent kids who vandalize and show contempt by littering) is more important. A dirty inside cannot be tolerated.

Anonymous said...

I have battled with maintenance and facilities over equipment in my room that needs attention and that I am told I should not deal with personally because of liability. 2 years, several e-mails and a visit from some guy from downtown who said "Oh, I thought it was something for the cafeteria" later and still nothing has done. This equipment has direct impact on my curriculum

And back when I was in school....if you had after school detention you did clean up duty. I know kids are capable of pushing lawn mowers and picking up trash!

Anonymous said...

As a former PTO president...

By all means, bring your concerns about school esthetics, maintenance and cleanliness to my attention.

My response: "Thank you, our school Beautification Committee will be meeting on such-and-such a date. We look forward to YOUR help and generous contributions! Oh, you're too busy with your own life?"

P.S - To the person who attacked "private school snobs". News flash - many in our community think Community House Middle School is full of "PUBLIC SCHOOL SNOBS". Yeah, go figure.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think it was that hard to understand that CMS is saving money on landscaping during the summer when no one is at the schools. I'm sure once the students come back you will see all the grass cut again.

wiley said...

Anonymous said...
Break up CMS into 7 or 8 school systems. Keep purchasing, C&I and maybe a few others centralized for economies of scale. You would create accountability in the smaller areas, and many, many things would improve.
We do not need multiple area superintendents PLUS Gorman.

August 9, 2010 5:25 PM


You would not create accountability, only dissention. One area would have more than others, etc. How would you suggest splitting up "some funds" not in your centralized column?

We all pay into the same tax base that goes to schools.

I've said it here before, Wal Mart runs the largest retail operation in the world from a small town in Arkansas, where you buzz a hred of cows when you land to make a call at HQ.

What we need is someone who CAN run the entire district from one central location.

Anonymous said...

For those who think it's okay to leave the lawn maintenance go over the summer, I wonder how you would feel if your next door neighbor did the same? You would have called the county on them by now who would have given them a warning to take care of it within a few days and then fine them if it wasn't done.

People live next to and near these schools. Not only is the incredibly tall weeds a haven for rodents, ticks, mosquitos, and chiggers, it is hurting their property values. If you were looking to purchase property and saw the neighborhood school in such a condition, would YOU want to move there?

The fact that there is all kinds of trash at some of these schools is also a big liability for the city. Children play on the playgrounds year round. If they get hurt, there's plenty of people who woulf file lawsuits.

Anonymous said...

CMS has challenges and ineptitude aplenty, no doubt.

Still, I wonder how many parent gripes are sometimes engendered by their kid somehow not making the grade. Or a teacher who's had enough of your constant moaning about little Johnny, who may not be so fabulous, after all.

Since our top schools did so well in recent tests and our poor students scored higher than peers in WCPSS, someone at CMS must be doing something right.

BTW, the parking lot pavement at South Meck was a mess when I was in high school there long, long ago.

My graduating class still somehow managed to send kids to the NC Governor's School, Carolina, Duke, Yale and later Harvard.

Anonymous said...

My school is so dirty it got a
"XXX" rating from playboy.

Anonymous said...

My school is so dirty the roaches filed a complaint with the county health department.

Anonymous said...

Here, here 6:51!

Anonymous said...

FUNNY!!!! 7:48

Anonymous said...

Big deal graduates from South Meck made it into Ivy League schools. CMS should be good stewards of what they have been entrusted with!

Anonymous said...

What's the deal with the one inch crack in the floor upstairs at the Providence Spring Elementary. It's shocking kids sat next to it. Rumor is the back wall is falling off the building. A contractor has been working all summer to keep the wall attached to the school. That may explain all the brick wall cracks and moldy smell. I know this is out of place, but cutting the grass may not be a priority for CMS right now. What happened to build it right the first time?

Larry said...

It pays to let things go to pot in the Government.

That way the people complain the Elected Official go on record with the media as having done something and a lot of new stuff is built with a lot of money going through the hands of the government creating a lot of well paid jobs.

Vouchers and Deconsolidation Now!

FlyGracefully said...

Smith's grass only got cut once or twice during the spring. I had already been mowing my yard for about 2 months before it finally was cut. It was probably about mid April.

@anon 6:48 do schools really have beautification committees and as community members (not parents) would we be welcomed?

It's not just the schools. That tennis park at Providence and Sardis Ln hasn't weedwhacked their sidewalk all year.

Does Charlotte have a lawn care ordinance like many cities?

Nameless said...

You don't need to have kids at a school to volunteer. Take your gloves and yard tools and trash bags. I do this a couple times a month as a CMS & Park & Rec volunteer. Sometimes my kids help too. It can be overwhelming and usually thankless. But when you take ownership of a task like that it puts substance behind any other gripes you may have.

Anonymous said...

I've been in CMS for over a decade- I've seen multiple custodial crews work 'round the clock to clean buildings, bathrooms, gyms, and even parking lots. What I've never seen is a principal, assistant principal, counselor, or other 11-12 month employee do ANYTHING over the summer that helped maintain the facilities. I've seen them play solitare, text on their CMS paid-for cell phones, search the internet for good gossip, and take really really long lunches. Let's hold these people accountable and make them EARN their summer salaries!

Anonymous said...

Lansdowne Elementary is awful. Inside and out. I was shocked at the facilities.

Anonymous said...

In response to 9:38pm-
AMEN! I'd love to see email transcripts or cell phone records (just like the NC Highway Patrol released) to see just what goes on in a school when people don't think anyone is watching and we are paying them to be there!

Looks like a great ivestigation for you Ann (hint hint)

Anonymous said...

1:11 PM: " JM Alexander" and "Alexander Graham" are two very opposite places (next time make sure you check your facts). I have had the opportunity to work at both.
At Alexander (Huntersville) there was NO community support, no PTA money, and NO volunteers. At AG (Southpark/Dilworth) there are volunteers, funding, and community members running rampant. I agree with all those that said it is all what WE as the community are willing to make it. AG has had a long-awaited but gorgeous renovation. There is a community there which takes pride in its school and shows it in the work they do there. Alexander is unfortunate enough to have little to no community assistance, and very few people who pride themselves in the way it is run.

With taxes as low (comparatively) as we are blessed to have them, we can't sacrifice our time and a few dollars towards the appearance of our neighborhood? Then we deserve the run down buildings littering our county.

Anonymous said...

I have worked in CMS for many years - I can safely say that the state of the grounds is the worst it has ever been. In the spring, I would not take my students out if the grass got too high, there were rodents and snakes found almost daily on campus. As far as the interiors of the buildings, it all goes to accountability. If a school has a lazy head custodian and a principal who won't hold them accountable - it gets disgusting fast. I am so sick of walking and EATING under light fixtures that have one to two inch roach bodies in them. I complained and was told by one custodian that it wasn't part of their job to get bugs out of the lights. I was told by a second custodian that there wasn't a ladder tall enough to reach the lights (um... so how did bulbs get changed?). There are buildings all over CMS with leaks, mold, bug and rodent infestations, broken and defaced furniture, and peeling paint. I understand my main concern and job is to educate Charlotte's children, but there are some definite cases in which the interior and exterior conditions of the facilities are potentially harmful to the children and adults who spend their days in these buildings.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on! Two years ago it was "my kid's school playground is the bus parking lot." Now its "My kids playground has too much grass."

Just be thankful the bathrooms have toliet paper....most of the time.

Anonymous said...

wow 9:38..what I have seen at my middle school are assistant principals coming into work on the month off because they can't get it done during the school year. They aren't getting paid to come in, they just do. Principals playing solitaire, what kind of school are your kids at because I have never seen our principal NOT working. Should the A.P.'s and principal get out and do school maintenance? I think NOT! They work their poorly paid butts off as it is and with more and more CMS cutbacks, what has to be done is growing substanially each and every year!

Anonymous said...

The situation will only get better when school districts get their priorities right. Why do some school districts put athletic needs ahead of academics. Why do we have the best looking football fields in the country however we clutter our school campuses with learning cottages and buildings with leaky roofs.
I remember one time when a school district was more concerned with the details of the gymnasium of a new middle school being built than with the rest of the educational atmosphere. I pray for a change.

Anonymous said...

How about forgoing expansive lawns that require expensive watering and regular mowing, and instead applying a total herbicide to the grounds? You can replace the grass with gravel or river rocks. This way the only yard maintenance that's required is bush & tree trimming a few times a year.

Anonymous said...

First appearance,now textbooks. Middle school Language Arts texts are now a decade old and unsupported by CMS or the publisher. What was a poor and political choice in 2000 as a text is typical of what non math and science teachers are left with today.Teachers are left with creating their own curriculum based on NCSCS. It would be easier to buy a set of Kindles for classroom use.

Anonymous said...

Smith Academy lost use of the gym for an entire season due to an uncovered roof repair. A torrential rain sprouted a floor eruption which sat unrepaired this past year. No basketball. Heck of a job Brownie.

Anonymous said...

My school looks like something out of a third world country. hhhhmmmm...maybe we are a third world country here after all. Toilet paper, on a good day maybe. Come on down all you roaches, snakes, bugs, germs, moldies....it's an all you can eat buffet!

Anonymous said...

If these lawns were well maintained over the summer, how many of you would be waving your pitchforks and torches because of the cost and how many teacher jobs would have been saved? We are in a major budget crisis right now! And I had to laugh at the poster who said she didn't want to send her child to Ballantyne ES because the grass is too high... nevermind the fact that it's an honor school of excellence and has some of the top performance scores in the county. God forbid CMS try to save a buck.

Bob Simril said...

“You can’t go home again” said Tom Wolfe in Look Homeward Angel. After being away for 28 years I decided to test his theory. Sadly the outside appearance of the local school campuses is making this statement feel true. I attended 1-12 grades in the local school system as a young person graduating from Myers Park High School in 1960. The outside always reflects the inside in commercial type buildings. “Uptown Charlotte” seems to reflect a great deal of pride in the city however the priorities of the local leaders are apparent when I look at the local schools. We wonder why we have low interest in students attending and graduating from high school. It’s the total picture adults fail to see.

Anonymous said...

Now that we've vented, let's come up with a solution.

I know there is money in the budget to fix all of these problems. It is mismanagement of monies as usual. How can we force the district into cleaning up our schools?

Anonymous said...

boy am i glad the fort mill schools do not go thru this and do you know why? Because the parents and volunteers take the time at each of their child's school to do yard work and beautification themselves. they raise the money and search for donations for things they need. they don't wait for the " school system" to do it, they take pride and do it themselves. the schools don't have to be emaculate like people think. they have to presentable and safe for our kids. how about getting off your butts and do it yourself and save the school system money.

Anonymous said...

I believe that years of busing (and I understand that busing was necessary at the time because "old Charlotte" did not treat everyone equally) fostered the situation we have today. Communities lost touch with their local schools because they were no longer "their" schools--too many children attending schools far away. It became easier to just let the system take care of things, and unfortunately the system now has way too many issues of concern. Maintenance apparently is way down the list. I hope that tonight's school board vote on guiding principles will go a long way towards restoring local communities' ownership of their schools.

Pamela Grundy said...

Oh, yes. All of our current problems can be traced back to a busing system that ended nearly a decade ago! Give me a break. The vast majority of CMS schools (including most of those mentioned in this post) are neighborhood schools and have been that way for a long time. Tonight's vote isn't going to change anything. Quit with the excuses already.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Steve Lyttle has just posted a story on this topic; it should be in tomorrow's paper with photos. Thanks for all the great tips!

Vicki said...

I agree - many of the schools look extremely shabby and it looks terrible - I hate driving past the school in my neighborhood, which hasn't been mowed all summer and looks dangerous. But something else that drives me crazy is the outdated text on many of the school signs. Some of them still say things like, "Last day of school is June 10" or "EOGs are coming." I think it shows a lack of respect and proper communication that school staff don't update the signs' text at the end of the school year with something like, "Have a nice summer!" or "We'll see you on August 25th!"

Anonymous said...

Go to Hopewell, take a walk around back and check out the piles of discarded desks, chairs, exercise equipment, etc that has basically been abandoned there. Literally 5 feet from a path used frequently by students to change classes and evacuate for fire drills is a pile of 10-15 pieces of rotting furniture it seems will never be taken care of.
Of course, I haven't been there since school let out in June, maybe something changed, but after being a CMS student for thirteen years, I highly doubt it.