Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CMS bonds in 2013?

After a long recession-driven slump in school construction,  Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials laid out a $1.86 billion 10-year plan for school construction and renovation Tuesday.

Planner Mike Raible said the first slice of that plan could go before voters in 2013,  although county officials could also find other ways to provide money.  The last bond vote was in 2007,  when voters approved $516 million.

The plan includes just over $1 billion (in today's dollars) for building 52 new schools,  $717 million for major renovations at 113 schools and $96 million for smaller improvements at 32 sites.  That's 56 percent for growth,  39 percent for renovation and 5 percent for the smaller projects.

Board members got a two-inch-thick book laying out the individual projects, but that hasn't been released publicly yet.  It's the specifics that spark public debate,  as staff and the board decide which projects go to the top of the list.

Among the questions raised Tuesday:  Will CMS continue expanding its preK-8 model by building schools designed to combine those grades?  CMS already has more than a dozen schools that combine elementary and middle grades,  including eight preK-8 neighborhood schools launched this year.  Planners say the 10-year plan includes some opportunities to build more,  including one slated for Huntersville.


Wiley Coyote said...

Slide #12 in my mind says NO to $1 billion.


Anonymous said...

Building so many schools is what got you into the mess you're in now. You need to learn to spend money wisely, renovating existing schools. You could do just as much with half as much $. The economy just isn't going to allow you to build, build, build.

Anonymous said...

Bail bonds...

Anonymous said...

Oh my god ! I can't believe the nerve - Wehn I built my house I would have loved to have Italian marble throughout and real cherry wood everywhere - I bought what I could afford - We do not need to approve anymore luxury schools - every other county in this state makes do with what they have - CMC schools do not NEED college level science labs and athletic fields - Build what we can afford -

Ghoul said...


How much of prior school bond money has not been spent yet? Last I saw there was money still left over fron bonds from the 90's.

Wiley Coyote said...

I will also add now that CMS has effectively carved out a separate division of 8 schools over the next 5 years, how will that square with Project LIFT?

Over the past three years, the student population has gone from 136,889 students in 2009/2010 to 140,746 in 2011/2012. Both include pre-K. That's an increase of 3,857 students or 2.81%. These enrollment numbers come from CMS Fast Facts on their website.

If CMS' enrollment increases another 2.82% over the next three years, that would add 3,940 students, for a total of 144,686.

We just closed 10 schools yet now need to build 52 new schools?

What am I missing here?

I don't doubt there are areas that need schools built. A perfect example of poor planning is Mt. Island Elementary school, that was over capacity before they broke ground.

I don't see projected enrollment warranting 52 new schools.

Anonymous said...

Is this a surprise to anyone?

Recall several of us stated this -- no Democrat would seek educational bond money during this past election year. Now that it's safe to do so, the typical Democrat ideology of spending one's way out of problems rears its ugly head.

Only problem is, most taxpayers are fed up with the waste, abuse and special interest programs that do not perform. When you have such a huge amount of 'white-flight' to charter schools, home schools, private schools and exodus out of the county, the only folks left will be the ones who don't pay into the system, yet demand more and more.

Anonymous said...

VOUCHERS, VOUCHERS, VOUCHERS , VOUCHERS would be the way to go if you want to blow $1 billion dollars. This is not needed as the North end of town is going to have their own deconsolidated area and the South side as well. Poor Charlotte Chamber could not keep it together and one of their own contributed that moron Tim Morgan !

BolynMcClung said...


Will CMS go back to before 1950 when compulsory education was split in two groups: 1st-8th (primary) and 9th-12th (secondary)? Public kindergarten wasn’t on the radar.

In previous years, capital planning sessions for new and replacement schools were about where and when. Now it will be what, where and when.

Ms Ellis-Stewart had the most important comment Tuesday night. She conjectured that results from the pK-8 will be important in making the WhatWhereWhen plans. She made a major step in that direction with her first board meeting when the Superintendent gave an assessment of what the last year’s budget decisions had on achievement this year.

It would be hard to imagine that one year of findings at the improvised pK-8s would be enough for the Board to commit Mecklenburg to ditching K-5/6-8/9-12. But there were indications of that from one Board member, Rhonda Lennon, when she offered that Albemarle ES and MS were good candidates for K-8 and didn’t object when Mr. Raible suggested Huntersville as a good area.

So what to build? Who knows?

What little I do know comes from the forums a year ago. Parents weren’t happy with the forcing of pK-8s on them and the possibility of destruction of neighborhoods. Those feelings are probably as important as achievement. And both are a little more important that construction cost.

Bolyn McClung

BolynMcClung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BolynMcClung said...


Subject: Remaining Bond Funds.

There is always some money on the books from way back, but the rule is that bond money must be spent within 10 years of being approved. When the 2007 bonds were passed the till was virtually empty. As I recall, Mr. Raible worked a little magic that gambled on the passage of the 2007 bonds so that the land for Rocky River HS wouldn’t slip away.

Tuesday night I asked Mike Raible your question. "How much money from 2007 will be left in Nov. 2013?" His answer was “none.”

As one of the Co-chairs for that bond drive, his answer feels correct.

In 2006, CMS ran out of construction money. It had to "beg" the county for funding through a process called "COPs", Certificates of Participation. That's where the money came from to relieve the elementary overcrowding in District 6. Both the County and CMS would like to avoid this kind of emergency spending.

Your current board might be the best ever to handle funding construction. Morgan, Ellis-Stewart, McElrath, Davis and Lennon participated in advisory roles to former boards. Rev. Tate came on aboard after the failed 2005 bond and was critical in getting community support for the 2007 bond.

Just a little information.

Bolyn McClung

Ghoul said...


Thanks for the info, searching the state law website, I see nothing that restricts bond money to 10 years. Was this money raised for specific purposes, as all bonds on ballets state, or was it raised and spent on other projects? Or do they sell bonds as the monetary needs come up?

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Seriously? We're closing schools, have schools that are under enrollment, and instead of re-drawing the lines to even out enrollment, they want to build more schools. 52 new schools? Geez I can't wait for the real estate market to turn around so I can SELL MY HOUSE AND LEAVE THIS STUPIDITY BEHIND.

Anonymous said...

I know that Rhonda Lennon will reject the school bonds, this could have disasterous effects on her district "Hough High" by allowing those "poor" kids to inch closer and closer to Davidson and Cornelius.

Wiley Coyote said...

...In an attempt to at least give the new $516 million package a fighting chance come November, what amounts to a public relations campaign was launched last week with much fanfare. Heading the PR blitz will be Bolyn McClung, Lu Ann Tucker and Eulada Watt. The trio and any entourage they can assemble will fan out across Mecklenburg County over the next few months trying to sell the bond package to voters skeptical not only of the amount, but how wisely CMS will spend it.

Watt is the wife of US Congressman Mel Watt. McClung is the mastermind behind the Web site, an online forum where citizens can express their opinions pro, con or indifferent on the school bond debate. Like Tucker, McClung served on last year's School Building Solutions Committee that was steered by former Governor Jim Martin. That group did its homework and declared that $400 million was enough for a CMS bond amount. Following Tuesday's school board meeting, McClung issued a statement.

"The campaign committee is anxious to start campaigning for passage of all the bonds," McClung said, which was basically the same thing the pro-bond cheerleaders said last week, before they even knew what projects would be included for CMS.

"We hope everyone will recognize that this bond package is the best way to begin to meet the tremendous need for facilities and renovations in our school system," McClung's statement reads. "Delaying the start of the 10-year capital plan again could impede Dr. Gorman's implementation of the educational reforms he has identified."

How did that work out Bolyn?

Anonymous said...

Sad little CMS should have only looked to Atlanta and Louisville for what was going to happen to their district. Schools made for 3000 that only have 600 students attending them.

Anonymous said...

We know the devil is in the details. Let's see where 50 new schools are needed with enrollment projected to be nearly flat according to their chart. We know past BOE's have played politics keeping mnay suburban schools 50% to 100% over capacity trying to force students and families back into urban. Did not work did it?

You have to ask hard questions when an underutilized school is slated for major renovation when what should happen is close it and move the students to 1 or 2 other schools.

DistrictSix said...

Maybe they will build a new high school in Mint Hill?

Oh, I should have said a high school in Mint Hill, that has students from Mint Hill attending.

DistrictSix said...

Learning environment?

Living environment?

Transportation environment?

Inebriation environment?

Medical environment?

Just trying to keep up with the new CMS.

Anonymous said...

This need for new schools must be the reason that CMS turned down Charlotte Catholic's offer to purchase the Waddell H.S. Campus. Does this mean Waddell will be reopened?

BolynMcClung said...

Second response to Ghoul:

Subject: further bond information.

Yes, Bond money has to be spent in 10 years. Considering that a high school takes 3 years this means most of the money is obligated by the seventh year. Elementary and middle schools take less time.

School construction bonds aren’t usually for a specific school. The exception is maybe in small districts. What is normally passed is a ballot that says the taxpayers agree to spend $X over a specified time period for capital construction as deemed necessary. In other words, what the voters are told will be priorities and schedules may change. But the bottom line is that it is all capital projects. Not for operating expenses such as salaries. A capital project could be a cafeteria refrigerator, a whole cafeteria, a complete school, a roof or ball field.

I know I’ll get accused of being a CMS flag bearer for saying this, but CMS construction is as transparent as glass. The politics are a little messy though.

SALE OF BONDS. (procedure) You are correct. CMS doesn’t sell bonds. That is the county’s duty. They normally sell bonds at the beginning of the year for the whole year’s needs. So, that high school that I said took 3 years would be funded by two or three sale of bonds.

Q: How much money did CMS spent of school construction from 1997 to 2006?
A: $300,000 a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for 10 straight years.

That is the impact that school construction has on the local economy.

Bolyn McClung

BolynMcClung said...

Response to Wiley Coyete:

Subject: Your question, Gorman, how did that work out?

This is a response I thought about for a while.

All things considered I wouldn't have had it much differently. His entrance was very, very good and the exit was rocky but graceful. In between, he moved the needle to the plus side. Whether you're speaking of data management, achievement, growth, a new breed of principal, getting the most out of state rules, getting grants, holding off Judge Manning and number one--taking the school board off the front page; he was very good.

I’m hoping we get a new superintendent that is as good.

Bolyn McClung

CMS Parent said...

I'm sorry, but I just can't vote yes to give CMS any more money. I'm having to pay to have my child's education augmented with tutors because he is in a suburban school with too many kids in his class and his teacher can't give him any help. Many other children in our school also need tutors to keep up. Why keep voting to keep giving CMS more money when my children won't see a dime? I'm so tired of fighting for my kids to get a decent and equal public education. I only hope we can get into private school or one of the charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Bolyn writes that CMS spent "$300,000 a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year for 10 straight years" on school construction.

Mecklenburg County is down 30,000 jobs from before the recession. At a median income of $35,000, that amounts to exactly the same amount of money as was spent by CMS.

So when people ask why isn't there any money in Char-Meck to hire new workers, we have our answer: it went to build vacant, closed and under-used schools.

Thanks for the clarity, Bolyn.

Wiley Coyote said...


I wasn't necessarily talking about Gorman. I was referring to the last bond vote and your involvement in it.

Hopefully, this time around, Mecklenburg County voters won't buy what CMS is selling.

Wiley Coyote said...

I can already write this script...

We get a "change agent" this year, a bond referendum next year and the bleeding hearts will say "oh we need to come together and support our new change agent"...

"Such wonderful things are happening in CMS we must have this bond pass"....

I'm still curious as to how a billion dollars and 52 new schools will be built around Project LIFT and with enrollment trends not going through the roof, why we need that many new schools.


Close 10 Build 50? said...

Ask for 50 schools and get 20? Are these people at CMS for real at all. Lots of pork in this one! If CMS has about 1000 mobile classrooms in operation, by my estimate CharMeck needs about 20 schools to get our children out of the costly trailer program and into real classrooms. Having just closed 10 schools it may be that the planning department and capital team should follow the Cobitz leadership model. The County should make CMS live within its means. It is time CMS begin taking care of what it has instead of looking to the taxpayer to make up for poor planning and facility management. Midwood cost taxpayers millions, we still pay the debt service, CMS gave it away and now Chamberlain asks for more play money? Get a clue! Build Schools. Really?

Anonymous said...

Bolyn McClung, your thoughts concerning Peter Gorman stink. He was behind the falsification of data, was self-promoting, cared only about advancing himself, and when the time came to report the real numbers Pete was nowhere to be found. If it is leaders like this you advocate for, then CMS is truly lost.

Anonymous said...

School budget:

So far I see nothing including performance of students that would not make me have second thoughts about increasing student teacher ratios portion from county funds in Title 1 and Achievement Zone schools to pay for increases being pitched. Additionally, WWS needs to drop another .1 so funds can go back to schools with class sizes over 35 students to reduce those.

Anonymous said...

Bolyn, the relief for Torrence Creek has been promised to be done by the BOCC via COPS because the new county valuation tool is biased against growth and numerous BOCC members have said they will not support new construction with CMS closing schools.

The relief however for Highland Creek ES had been approved in earlier bonds but now seems to be cancelled. I know there had been discussion about how attendance zones between the 2 would end up.

Lastly, typical demographics in the urban areas is changing to the point black and hispanic poor are decreasing and student population is decreasing. Why not close older schools in need of repair and just be done with it? I know many "urban" worshippers want to put suburban kids on buses and bring them inward with the rush hour traffic. That is simply irresponsible to have kids onthe us that long. CMS had discontinued due to cost many of suburban kids going to magnet schools. Same difference.

Anonymous said...

A group is advocating for the breakup of BofA; why can't we form a group to advocate for the breakup of CMS? Certainly CMS is far less effective in doing whaat it was set up to do than BofA. I never understood why some people hated government so much until I moved to this area and got to know a bit about Meck County and CMS. I don't think it is possible to HATE anything as much as I hate this county governbment and ALL THINGS CMS.

Anonymous said...

5:37 PM - that would be GREAT, but I prefer if Mint Hill could figure a way to split from CMS entirely. I have two children in CMess. I will vote NO to any bond money that comes up forever ... unless that money is soley used in District 6 and will be used by district 6 people.

Anonymous said...

The problem with CMS bonds is that there are folks who will vote "Yes" for every bond but they do not have to pay it back.

Free money to them. No care to them. BOCC members' salaries more than pays for theirs.

Anonymous said...

This is a joke. CMS is a joke. They are all criminals and should be run out of this country.

The biggest joke on the planet.

Fire em all.

displaced yankee said...

CMS turned down an offer from Charlotte Catholic to buy Waddel HS? Did they offer a reason? I guess it would make them look really bad if a private school bought a school that CMS shuttered because it was failing and underutilized and turned it into a thriving school of academic excellence.

Anonymous said...

In case you all don't know--Waddell is not shuttered. It's being fully utilized used as the language magnet.

Building Waddell was a terrible "mistake", done for political reasons by the late 90's board (some of the same folks who are reappearing today--Arthur Griffin, Louise Woods,Vilma Leake, George Dunlap, and not sure if Rembert was on the board then or not). But you can't accuse CMS of not utilizing the building now that the high school is closed.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally--the bonds used to build Waddell had been sold to the public as bonds for a "new south high school". Voters assumed that south meant far south, where it was needed and where eventually more money had to be spent to build Ardrey Kell. I don't imagine most voters thought they were voting for bonds for a high school with no population base and in an industrial area off of I-77, with (at the time) under utilized Olympic less than three miles away.

One has to wonder what kind of guarantees this new board (which seems disturbingly reminiscent of the late 90's board) will give responsible voters and taxpayers to assure them that new bonds will be used to put schools where they are really needed.

Anonymous said...

Southwest Charlotte has been promised to have renovations at Olympic, one of the oldest schools in Charlotte, and we are still have seen nothing done. We were told we would get a new high school in this area and nothing is done. Until we see where the money from previous bonds are, why should we approve more money to empty promises.

Anonymous said...

10:49, that is standard operating procedure for CMS. One bond package may have roof replacement. Another bond pacakge has fire, water, sprinkiler upgrades and then CMS decides to hold them all to get a new school in a later bond package. When Reps had control of the BOCC, they decided they would put in a line item of $40 to $50 million per year for these smaller capital replacement projects and be done with this battle of renovation versus new school bond package vote fights. Demos however when they got back in control just robbed that line item for more handout programs.

As long as minorities are given equal to more voting power than the majority of citizens, this will continue to happen.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Off topic because I need to vent.

My child's 4th grade male teacher left CMS for Union County. Then, their 5th grade male teacher left CMS for Union County while another male teacher was falsely accused of being a pedophile. Now Dr. Bowe is gone. CMS - a hazard zone for male educators?

Anonymous said...


White male = No Hope

Anonymous said...

They were all white men.

Anonymous said...

I would strongly advise my white son to avoid ever being a teacher or administrator for CMS.