Thursday, August 18, 2011

Back to school for CMS teachers

CMS teachers are back on the job today. They'll be getting their classrooms ready, even as a blur of other getting-ready activities are going on around them. At the district's back-to-school press briefing yesterday, Associate Superintendent Guy Chamberlain said the district still has about 57 mobile classrooms that need to be put in place as CMS scrambles to increase its number of teachers and class space in accordance with late-arriving state and local budget dollars. (Another 80 that weren't previously being used are being put back into commission on the campuses where they were sitting).

When I asked which schools have the greatest need for extra teachers and/or class space, CMS human resources chief Dan Habrat said elementary schools in the central zone (near the uptown area) have the greatest need. Chamberlain this morning e-mailed me the following list, which shows that Mallard Creek Elementary, which officials said was still trying to hire 13 teachers, also needs another six mobiles in place. Sounds like lots of work still to be done on that campus. Here's the list of schools and mobiles needed (they're almost all elementary schools).

Anybody notice any other items/patterns of note?

Barringer 4
Briarwood 2
Cotswold 2
Crown Point 1
Elon Park 1
Hidden Valley 4
Highland Creek 2
Huntingtowne Farms 4
Washam 2
Landsdowne 1
Lebanon Road 3
Mallard Creek 6
Merry Oaks 2
Montclaire 3
Pineville 2
Polo Ridge 2
Reid Park 1
Sharon 3
Sterling 2
Stoney Creek 4
Whitewater Middle 2
Westerly Hills 3


Wiley Coyote said...

Other than hiring someone just to keep up with the CMS minutia?

I noticed Whitewater Middle needs mobiles?

The new Whitewater Middle School is a 54 classroom prototype middle school. The new school relieves overcrowding at Coulwood MS and Wilson MS. The school was built for a student capacity of 1,200.

Also, as I said a week or so ago, Paw Creek removed its mobile classrooms over the past few weeks that have been there for several years.

I guess emrollment shrunk there eh?

By the way, when is the 20th day od school?

Should be interesting.

If you get an updated head count and how many total FRL students for 2011/12 that would be appreciated.

therestofthestory said...

Wiley, I noticed the FRL qualification levels had been moved up this year. Plus CMS had prequalified over 7,000 students through DSS.

.."CMS has certified about 37,251 more students have been certified eligible for free- and reduced-price lunches through Mecklenburg Department of Social Services records. Officials said that's up 7,477 from last year.

That might be due in part to revised income guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A family of four can now earn up to $29,055 a year and qualify for free lunches, compared with $22,050 last year. The same size family earning up to $41,348 qualifies for reduced-price lunches, up from $40,793 last year..."

So as you see, they are actively recruiting more and more students so as to tap into more federal money for this designation for the benefit of the cafeterias, Title I designation and special needs student adders.

Paw Creek removed its mobiles because it is closing, right?

Mallard Creek is in a tough spot. Not sure how they are going to be productive for the first month or two. I know some folks who have this as their school assignment since they passed up their magnet school choice. They may regret that.

therestofthestory said...

Actually Ann, they are pretty well scattered about. Not sure what point you are trying to make that is not there. I have mapped all of these. What I would perfer to have is the total portable units at all schools already. Not the fact that CMS is unable to manage its space

I will give you 2 for example. One, Look at the 2 at Highland Creek, the 6 at Mallard Creek and the 4 at Stoney Creek. This is all because the BOE and the county refuses to build the ES on Johnson-Oehler Rd. Highland Creek already has a large mobile village.

Two, look at the 2 at Washam and the large village at Torence Creek already all due to the county and BOE refusing to build that new school (forget the name) to relieve that area.

So as I am sure, there is no singular "blame" you can put on this. These 2 areas short of mobile units to be moved have been known for at least a year. This is no more than CMS's poor treatment of areas that are not FOCUS schools. Strangling the suburbs still trying to get back at losing the last court case.

Wiley Coyote said...

PAwtuckett is closing...Paw Creek is not.

Regarding FRL, you posted this:

.."CMS has certified about 37,251 more students have been certified eligible for free- and reduced-price lunches through Mecklenburg Department of Social Services records. Officials said that's up 7,477 from last year.

That's confusing because last year, the number of FRL students was just shy of 75,000.

So if another 37,251 have been added, that now makes the number 112,251 out of the latest projected enrollment of 141,00 OR 80 PERCENT of students.

I'd have to see the numbers to believe that.

7,477 added to the 75,000 would be 82,477 or 58.5%.

Soooo....what are the correct numbers?

Do you have a link?

therestofthestory said...

Wiley, those numbers were posted in today's article

The take from that is that the FRL qualifying levels have gone up this year and CMS is already 7.400 ahead of last year just working with DSS. Probably a good chance is that those really qualify. But now once the word gets around, even more FRL's will apply at start of school so I am sure the new number this year, probably not known till after the 20 days, will be 88,000 to 90,000.

Also, thanks on the correction of Pawtuckett and Paw Creek.

However the point I think Ann is trying to make does not hold water. I see 4 other areasof town that had nothign to do with closing/consolidating any schools. I will have to ask why instead of adding 2 units at Briarwood and 1 unit at Merry Oaks why they did not move them into space at Shamrock Gardens.

Wiley Coyote said...

Thanks TROTS...

I've been on a plane most of the day so have to catch up even though I was online.

CMS has certified about 37,251 more students have been certified eligible for free- and reduced-price lunches through Mecklenburg Department of Social Services records. Officials said that's up 7,477 from last year.

I just read it and again, those numbers don't add up.

Last year, there were 75,000.

Here's the number from the CMS website in 2009:

The 40th-day enrollment count showed that 67,991, or 50.9 percent of K-12 students, qualify for the subsidy. When pre-kindergarten students are included, 51.6 percent of CMS students are eligible for the subsidy. Eligibility is widely used by school districts as a proxy for poverty in the student population.

Eric? Care to quantify your numbers as to what 37,000/7,400 means?

Larry said...

Barringer is a magnet school.

Hidden Valley is driven by Hispanic Growth as is the growth in CMS over the last few years.

Mallard Creek is out in the fast growing suburbs.

If any body thinks we are overcrowded in CMS they may want to do some research and see that in the suburbs they have been getting the short end of the stick for some time. Oh this site will help

Everyone if you need to fill out the form for Free and Reduced Lunch they can be found here:

And here are the languages.

English (.doc) (.pdf)
Arabic (.doc) (.pdf)
Armenian (.doc) (.pdf)
Cambodian (.doc) (.pdf)
Chinese (Traditional) (.doc) (.pdf)
Chinese (Simplified) (.doc) (.pdf)
Croatian (.doc) (.pdf)
Farsi (.doc) (.pdf)
French (.doc) (.pdf)
Greek (.doc) (.pdf)
Gujarati (.doc) (.pdf)
Haitian Creole (.doc) (.pdf)
Hindi (.doc) (.pdf)
Hmong (.doc) (.pdf)
Japanese (.doc) (.pdf)
Korean (.doc) (.pdf)
Kurdish (.doc) (.pdf)
Laotian (.doc) (.pdf)
Mien (.doc) (.pdf)
Polish (.doc) (.pdf)
Portuguese (.doc) (.pdf)
Punjabi (.doc) (.pdf)
Russian (.doc) (.pdf)
Samoan (.doc) (.pdf)
Serbian (.doc) (.pdf)
Somali (.doc) (.pdf)
Spanish (.doc) (.pdf)
Sudanese (.doc) (.pdf)
Tagalog (.doc) (.pdf)
Thai (.doc) (.pdf)
Tigrinya (.doc) (.pdf)
Ukrainian (.doc) (.pdf)
Urdu (.doc) (.pdf)
Vietnamese (.doc) (.pdf)

And a major question is no you do not have to be a citizen to qualify.

Wiley Coyote said...

Or, people can go to the USDA website and report fraud, which we should do with CMS.

Report the entire district as contributing to the $1.5 billion in USDA overpayments in 2009/2010...

Anonymous said...

Okay, Larry, How did the League of Women Voter's forum go today?

Larry said...

I posted on the other comment.

They did a speed dating type format with five minutes for each of the 12 candidates at each table.

The majority of the group disliked the idea of doing anything but more money for urban students and opening the closed schools and busing suburban kids to them.

They did not want to hear the ideas about charter or vouchers as that would bring in religion, racism and a myriad of other horses all with things that would make our system bad.

A couple of tables and I just sat and they were very quiet and unhappy with me. I was looking up how bad the stock market was during during these lulls.

They will be video taping us for their website in a few weeks.

therestofthestory said...

Sadly typical of the intelligence most of the voters in Mecklenburg have. We have got to get the suburbs infuriated and get out the vote this fall. I paln to troll many urban preceints and stand around and take pictures.

Wiley Coyote said...


I believe the infuriation level of the suburbs peaked years ago.

This is not a suburbs versus urban situation anymore in my opinion.

Geeze I bring it up as much as Larry brings up charters but when CMS is built upon fraudulent data and monies received because of that fraudualent data gets wasted year after year, it's a total community problem that should get everyone angry.

The problem is, it doesn't.

68% of CMS is minority....

Do the math and look at how people vote.

That's another little secret no one wants to talk about.

Anonymous said...

Anyone we know at any of these 12 tables? How many people were there at each table?

Pamela Grundy said...

Shamrock will have six new pre-K classes this year, so we don't have extra space. You're welcome to come take pictures at our 55-year-old school any time. I'd start with the bathrooms.

Larry said...

On the average we had about three people at each table.

And hey can I plug my Charter School Ideas again?

Oh wait did I mention that I was going to donate my salary.

Uh what else is that makes people angry that I say... oh yes I am breathing and I am not a clone of the others running.

See you have a lot to jump on me about tonight.

therestofthestory said...

Oh WIley do I know how some of these people think/not think and vote! Since the first Clinton presidential election, I have run a preceinct in University City. It is really sad to see how some votes count the same as some other votes.

Oh and Larry, they hate you because you are white and successful and can not be intimidated by the race card.

Larry said...

Actually I feel we have so many groups in Charlotte who are willing to spend a million or two to leverage in order to get a hold of the billion at CMS.

All they need is the number of people on the board and there they go.

So I always say, Follow The Money!

Oh and Pam Grundy mentioned her school. I have this site for everyone to see some details on it

It seems they have a very large kindergarten class presence.

And some money has been spent at that school over the years.

Yes it is not new. But maybe we should not have built those schools where they were not needed and are now closed, that money would have been nice to have been used for education.

I bet we can use that as a cause.

Pamela Grundy said...

And two-year-old data is helpful how?

Larry said...

Did you have something more current that is direct off of CMS when I asked for Demographics?

I am looking forward to your help?

Oh when will the Swann Fellowship and Meck whatever group that is you are with taped interviews going to be up?


Pamela Grundy said...

If you're going to be an independent voice you need to do your own research, and it needs to go beyond what you can find with a quick web search.

I'm not involved with getting the interviews up on the web, but it will probably be a couple of weeks. It's more than a dozen interviews that ran 45 minutes each, done with volunteer work and less-than-state-of-the-art equipment, so I gather it will take a while to get it all formatted and posted.

therestofthestory said...

So Pam, do I understand your position right that a person would not have credibility in a debate if they used publically available data for their points?

KathrynA said...

I got a very disturbing letter in the mail today, maybe you can find out a bit about it. My son was a student at the now closed Oakhurst. When we were allowed to use the lottery to eek alternate placement to our homeschool ( Merry Oaks) we were told that we were not high on the choice list because Merry Oaks was not a title one school. Today I got a letter announcing the title one status and was informed that it indeed is a title one school and we will have priority in January for a school change. It also said that I could ( only if I am a low income household) have free or reduced proce tutoring for my child since the school was not meeting AYP goals. I am angry and lost on this one. because they failed to corectly identify the school status my child is being tossed from a racially diverse, progressive school to one which is extraordinarily homogemous and 95 percent free lunch AND since I work hard to put lunch money in his pocket my child is not eligible to recieve any tutoring. I could rant but I'll save your ears and my energy. Is there any light to be shed on this one? I havea bright, shy child and I am very scared for him. Private schol tuition is out of reach for us, even though we can afford lunch ( smirk).

Pamela Grundy said...

The data needs to be relevant to the issue at hand. In this case, Larry's isn't.

Larry said...

Check with the private schools, are you aware that financial aid is available at almost all of them?

And this is why we need choice. Of course if your child has any disability at all....hint hint... you can get tax credits up to 8K for them to go to private school.

And Pam Grundy I don't think anything I would say would be relevant to you and your group. Living with the wedding cake and the dream that all will be restored while the place falls in around you is a sad picture.

The rest of us are going to take these kids and make a future for them.

Pamela Grundy said...


There's a difference between being a Title I school and a Title I school in school improvement status. Title I standing is based primarily on the school's economic makeup. A Title I school that is in improvement status is one that failed to make AYP two years in a row. You only get priority out if you're assigned to a Title I school in improvement status. I believe that this past spring was Merry Oaks' second straight year of failing to make AYP, so the school wasn't in improvement status when you entered last year's lottery, but will be for this year's lottery. So it wasn't a mistake on CMS's part, it's how the (highly problematic) federal law works.

I'm sorry about Oakhurst; it was a marvelous school and the five school board members who voted to close it made a tragically wrongheaded decision.

Merry Oaks isn't homogenous; it actually has a quite diverse ethnic mix of African American, Hispanic, Asians and others. It's a very interesting school, although it does struggle with the challenges of concentrated poverty, as do so many of its counterparts.

therestofthestory said...

Wow KathrynA, that is scary for you and your child. I will do some asking and see what I can find out. But on the surface, I think the obvious conclusion is that CMS is not interested in those that attempt to do for themselves but rather it only cares about being part of the dependent creation government machine.

Of course your other recourse could be what 44,000 other families do and lie on their FRL application. I know that does start a slippery slope for one's integrity.

Wiley Coyote said...

...yet Pam wants to quote data that's years old to justify wasting tens of millions on Bright Beginnings.

What, almost 10 years old? And the data shows no real difference between the groups.


I believe "shooting ones self in the foot" comes to mind.

Wiley Coyote said...


why waste all that time quoting Title I definitions and where the money comes from when we all know the data used to dispense funds is totally bogus.

Pamela Grundy said...


1. Your comment about Title I doesn't speak to the issue at hand.

2. As you well know, Mecklenburg ACTS has never used the CMS Bright Beginnings study (which wasn't a particularly good study) to justify support for Bright Beginnings. The point we make is that the study did not show that there was no effect, as you and others claim (see We do, however, support Bright Beginnings because there is a broad body of national data that charts the general value of preschool for disadvantaged students.

Wiley Coyote said...

Oh the old Chocago study, right?

Then what you're also saying is Gorman was totally clueless when as a "Dr. Of Education" he didn't know what he was talking about when he also stated there was no long term benefit of BB oMore at Four?

And your defelction of the true fact of the matter IS that totally bogus poverty numbers touches EVERY aspect of public education.

Again, you know it and I know it, but you and groups like you support don't dare admit that or else all your buckets of money would dry up.

In 2009/2010 the USDA overpaid school lunch benefits to the tune of $1.5 BILLION DOLLARS - THEIR figures.

2010 Census data does not marry up to the number of children CMS allows to get free or reduced lunches by a very wide margin, thus directly affecting everything from FREE school supplies to Title I funds.

The gross mismanagement of money is obscene.

Larry said...

After volunteering in the challenged neighborhoods for the last ten years I have seen that we seem to be providing day care for that year before the first grade and calling it Bright Beginnings.

In fact we touched this third rail a few years ago but the outcry was just as it always is when they want to have a cute kid show up at the podium, nothing was done but the free day care was continued.

Anyway maybe coming up we can actually make schools what they should be and educate students.

See this story from a couple of years ago.

Wiley Coyote said...


Wiley Coyote said...

And now we have a judge legislating from the bench demanding every child who wants pre-K be allowed to get it and we, the taxpayers are expected to fund it.

Congress can cut Head Start funds, we should be able to cut More at Four.

The Legislature should do just that, cut the entire program.

Kill it.

Pamela Grundy said...


If you want to talk more about Merry Oaks or your situation, you're welcome to e-mail me at

Anonymous said...

Well... I will just say that I was happy to go to my school today and excited to meet my students on Thursday. The rest, I can't control and right now am a bit too busy to worry about as I have to get ready to help move forward the hopes and dreams of about 200 kids...

therestofthestory said...

9:40 PM Thanks for your dedication and your optimism for the new year. You are probably the most significant bright light most of them have.

The NAACP is probably right. They know what terrible parents they are. That is why they are pushing for true 50 week school, 6 days a week from 8 to 5 with the school feeding the kids all 3 meals.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Belatedly, I wasn't making any points with this -- it's Eric's post. We've been doing the school-beat shuffle lately; it's hard to keep up with.

7734 40 said...

Pattern one is closing schools and opening mobile classrooms. CMS was tracking to eliminate trailers. Pattern two is more teachers, less classrooms. Class size was touted as a critical factor. Pattern three is no discussion of district education improvement plan. Let's talk about leasing bond funded renovated public school property. Pattern four is looming change.

Anonymous said...

Point Eric was trying to make was did you see any new Mobiles added to Myers Park traditional,Eastover,or your more vanilla schools? NO

Larry said...

Really do they currently have them?

In fact an accounting of just how many and where would be a great story and clear the air.

We do not want to go with out the real numbers now do we?

Larry said...

1241 Units are currently at CMS and I have a request in with Dennis or so they said would send me the information on where these are located. I will also get back to them to find out if they are being used.

This seems strange when we could have planned and especially when we have all that bond money not yet spent. It is as if we are choking off this on purpose to create a mess. But maybe we just need a different way of looking at or even revamp the system of how we build.

It does seem we have a real problem with long term and short term goals at CMS.

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 10:22...

Perhaps you should define "vanilla".

Myers Park High School is 59% White and 41% Minority.

MP Trad is 38% Minority and 62% White.

Eastover has a lower percentage of Minorities at 22%.

So what's your point?

therestofthestory said...

10:22 AM Maybe you need to do a little research before you make a rash statement. For one, I will bet a good number of these is because Bright Beginnings is moving to a number of these schools and that are displacing the regular students to mobile units so they have to be at elementary schools. Larry is going to find out. What do you think the primary population is of Cotswold, Crown Point, Highland Creek (which already has a big village of mobiles), Huntingtwne Farms, Washam, and I can go on but I hope you see my point. Your ascertain is that these are not being placed at "white" schools to infer there is more burden being put on "non-white" schools is as ridiculous as a post I have seen here in a while. And as KW has pointed out, there are not many "mostly white" schools left in CMS. White population is down to 35% now. If the economy were any better, I imagine it would be closer to 15%. CMS has made it clear it cares little about educating "all" the students. They are trying to make a name for themselves for educating urban kids and closing the achievement gap. Closing the achievement gap is much easier to do if you run out the high end kids.

Larry said...

I called CMS and left a detailed message with someone in that department along with my email address, but got an Email asking me what it was I wanted.

I find it strange they do that being that they know it does waste their valuable time.

But I sent back a full request.

Also Eric sent me an email saying he might also do a story after rush week.

So this should be interesting to find out where these are the budget and the budget they have in the future. Also I asked if they had any analysis of how this would have worked out if we had built instead of using these mobile classrooms.

Anonymous said...

There are differences about the number of trailer classrooms being used this year, number moved, number opened and the costs associated with this as a package. Are trailer costs included with the costs to change around the schools? Are the trailers bond funded? To close ten schools and then still have space for 500 additional teachers begs the question of actual CMS capacity.

Anonymous said...

At 50 teachers per school for discussion purposes, 500 new teachers would equal roughly 10 schools. To close 10 schools would mean a surplus of 500 teachers. With current CMS closings plus new teachers CMS is ahead by roughly 1000 teachers. $500,000,000 public bond sold in large part to build new schools to manage overcrowding. Fuzzy math on both sides. Larry's salary return might help afterall.

Larry said...

What is it with CMS Personnel that they are not helpful at all?:

I’ll begin by answering what I can in 100 words or less in red below. Happy to have a phone conversation, as well.

Dennis K. LaCaria
980.343.6880 tel
980.722.5728 cel

From: Mint Hill []
Sent: Monday, August 22, 2011 8:13 PM
To: Dennis K. LaCaria
Subject: RE: request for info

I need the number of mobile classrooms we currently have, the number on order, the number we are using and where. The units that are not being used and where those are. Our total inventory of mobile classrooms is about 1250. We are not purchasing any; over the last two to three years, we have mothballed about half of those classrooms. We are in the process of relocating about 100 and increasing the total number in service to roughly 900. Once the move management is complete, I will be able to tell you how many are on each site.

We also need the budget for the last ten years on them and the amount budgeted for them over the next ten years or however long you do that planning. Budgeted for operating and maintaining portables, or for relocating them? Or both? We do 10-year planning for school facilities, but find ourselves in the situation of chasing both growth and funding. Portables are planned and adjusted annually, as programmatic and population shifts drive the need.

Also if you have any analysis of how that relates to actually building instead of using classrooms that would be helpful. The portable classrooms are less energy efficient than brick and mortar. Additionally, the “average” portable remains in one location for 5 years before being relocated.

We have several people who seem concerned that we have not focused as we should on certain areas as far as long term growth and I wanted to show them that was being taken care of. Happy to discuss this in greater detail.

This was the most nothing bunch of answers I could think of. If my employees answered someone with something like this I would send them to CPCC for a year to learn how to handle their job.