Thursday, May 2, 2013

Will CMS hold its market share?

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is forecasting that it can hold onto 81 percent of the educational  "market"  through 2021.  How realistic is that?

One of the challenges of making a 10-year construction plan is figuring out how many students the district is going to have.  When CMS made a 10-year plan going into the 2007 bond campaign,  the economy was robust and enrollment was increasing by some 5,000 students a year. The district projected it would add another 58,000 in the decade ahead.

Then the recession hit,  and growth slowed to about 2,000 a year. The new plan projects adding about 17,800 CMS students in the next 10 years.

CMS is predicting that charter schools will have 10,900 Mecklenburg students in 2021 -- up from 8,281 in 2011, which CMS is using as the base.  That sounds low to me.  Half a dozen new charters are slated to open in or near Mecklenburg in August,  and they're projecting their total enrollment at roughly 2,500 the first year. Charters tend to open small and add grades,  so their enrollment often grows even when no new schools open.  And there are applicants lining up to open new schools.  The surge in charters presents planners with a wild card:  No one knows how many of them can deliver on their plans,  how many will be approved in coming years and how many of the students will come from Mecklenburg  (charter students can cross county lines).

Home-schoolers will increase from about 5,900 to 6,700 if the CMS projection holds. And here's the most puzzling one:  CMS is forecasting a decline in private school enrollment,  from 19,545 to 18,700.  I asked Superintendent Heath Morrison about that last week.  He referred me to planning honcho Scott McCully,  who hasn't yet provided an explanation.  The only thing that comes to mind is a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau on declining private-school enrollment.  But, as discussed in a recent blog post,  that trend hasn't held true in Mecklenburg. And as some of you noted after delving into that study,  the bureau's tally for North Carolina didn't match state reporting on private-school enrollment.

As Morrison noted when the board approved the 10-year plan,  it's hardly locked in for a decade.  Plans call for updating on a yearly basis.  Each year will likely bring new insights about who's living here and what choices families are making.


CharlotteObserver said...

Folks what do you think of a study on our CMS that shows:

Among applicants with low-quality neighborhood schools, lottery winners are more likely than lottery losers to graduate from high school, attend a four-year college, and earn a bachelor’s degree. They are twice as likely to earn a degree from an elite university. The results suggest that school choice can improve students’ longer-term life chances when they gain access to schools that are better on observed dimensions of quality.

Sadly this report was never discussed in the Observer for you.

Also what is the percentage CMS has now with Charter, Private and home schooling, one would think it is much less, well if you do not include the Hispanic population growth in this country and county which has fueled this explosive need for more schools and the like.

Anonymous said...

I disagree that private school enrollment will decline. Even with the current economic woes, private school enrollment has increased. Parents will continue to look for options that better suit their children.

Texas girl said...

I imagine that the parents that should be reading this are not, but parents need to start taking f*^&&#@$ responsibility for their kids and give them structure, work with them at home on reading/schoolwork, teach them some moral values, and tell them NO every once in awhile. Absolutely homeschooling and private school enrollment will be up in Meck county over the next few years.

Just look at what's happening at Hough High.

Anonymous said...

As the real estate market recovers more parents will sell to get their students out of CMS.

CMS will see fewer and fewer of the students it spends $2500 on and more and more of the students it's spending $7000 on.

Meanwhile Cabarrus and Union will see a tsunami of new students.

Wiley Coyote said...

I wonder why the Ft. Mill school district is bursting at the seams.....

Yes there is an overall "choice" in Mecklenburg County; charters, CMS, private, home schooling, but many people can't afford to move or send their kids to a private school, so using market share to describe education is foolish. If I wanted to send my kid from here to Ardrey Kell within CMS, it would not be allowed. So much for "choice".

CMS' overall product sucks, but to many people, it's the only grocery store in which they can afford to shop and their only "choice".


Do not trust any projections coming from them!

Anonymous said...

There is a reason they suspect a drop in the charter school numbers. Several current charter schools are seeing an exodus of students because the parents realized the students are getting what was promised, and the schools are not up to par. I know this because my school is getting an influx of students from charter schools next year. That is not to diminish the achievements of some charter schools in the area.

Anonymous said...

Texas girl,

While I don't think highly of what the punks at Hough High are doing, I feel sorrier for the normal kids who are forced to attend school with these social misfits.

Those kids, like most criminals in adult society, probably have a long history of problems.

Yet, they, like so many other problems are "tolerated" in our wonderful hug-a-thug society.

That's the problem.

The 80-90% of kids who don't have these problems suffer so the bottom feeders get their "chance".

We've been doing this for too long and need to stop and focus on the kids who want to do well instead.

Anonymous said...


Again, charter schools still get to cherry pick students even with a lottery.

The reason is that the motivated parents/students who entered the lottery (but didn't get selected) STILL go to school with those who didn't care enough to enter the lottery.

So, even if the school isn't directly choosing from its pool of "candidates", it is still getting a better group of SELF-SELECTED candidates.

The ones who lose the lottery are stuck with all the other kids and parents as their peers.

Anonymous said...

CO 6:52...

I didn't read through the entire 40 pages of the study, but it appears the study reflected the Choice Plan CMS implemented in 2003 in wake of the Cappichione lawsuit. Also included were magnets and charters overseen by the district. This is the kind of choice I support because there is accountability. I would still be wary because it was funded by the USDOE and conducted by Harvard "researchers."

However, today, we have for-profit charter management organizations (CMOs) that only exist to make money for operators and investors. Thanks to a little-known tax loophole passed in 1996, charter operators can double their money in seven years. Even if the school bombs, a profit can be made even if the charter is revoked after five years.

Charters are fine if they are non-profit and are controlled by a publically elected school board. If they claim to be innovative, why can't they play by the same rules as traditional public schools?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:00, what specific rules (that traditional public schools "play by") do you want charters to follow? Should charters be forced to give teachers tenure like traditional public schools do, so that bad teachers almost never get fired?

Or should charters be forced to pay teachers according to a pay scale that ignores performance, and instead only rewards years on the job and teaching certificates?

Also, should charters serving high-poverty children not be allowed to have a 6-day school week or longer school year, since few traditional public schools do these things?

What are the time-tested public school rules that you want charters to "play by"?

If you want to imply that there's some nefarious plot going on, then please be specific.

Anonymous said...

Ann, Its simple math to follow the growth. The County issues a building permit and charges the builder. Count that as national average 2 children per household. The County has the money and data before the house is even finished. They know were seats are going to be needed in future years before CMS does. Dont try to make it any harder than it is to compute.

Wiley Coyote said...


Then why was I-485 outdated before the first car ever drove on it if projecting is so simple?

A lot of assumption of 2 kids per household being built. You have no idea whether they will go to private, public, charter or home school.

Do you know where the next 10,000 homes are going to be built in Mecklenburg County over the next 5 years? If so, you need to contact CMS so they can start planning for it now.

Do you know why the Whitewater School was built? Because Crosland was supposed to build about 2,300 homes out there. We were also supposed to have all this growth around the Whitewater Center with hotels, shops etc.

Mountain Island Monitor 2010:

In March 2004, Crosland had purchased more than 150 acres along Belmeade Drive, from the Clariant Corporation for 2.4 million. At the time Bill Daleure, then president of Crosland, said their plan to build 2,300 single-family homes in the development dubbed Whitewater was company’s biggest project in Charlotte.

The community was to have homes ranging in price from $150,000 to more than $400,000, and Crosland hoped the first homes would be available in early 2006.

It never happened.

Anonymous said...

So will charter school lose funding for teacher assistants if the rest of the public schools do?

Anonymous said...


Here's the plot... A handful of rich guys have controlled public education for the past 30 years. All of the recent major initiatives (NCLB, RttT, charters, testing, Common Core) were/are backed by corporate interests. They want a piece of the education pie. They have successfully lobbied legislators to enact policies that facilitate their agenda. They fund research to convince politicians their way works. They (Murdoch, Bloomburg) also control the media to convince the public that choice and privatization works in education.

They continue to promote the message that "bad teachers" are the reason for all of society's problems. They don't blame the real problem (poverty) because there is no money to be made in blaming poverty, bad parents or society. Before you reference an education study, check to see who financed the study. Chances are its either Gates, Broad or Walton. Public education was a democracy, but it has been bought by a few with deep pockets.

By the way, the new state leaders want to appoint a board to oversee charters so they can skirt around accountability. Obviously, they want to play by their own rules. "Innovation" in charter schools is code for taking public money and doing whatever they want to.

BolynMcClung said...

Charlotte is a great place for a job. The challenge for parents is deciding where to live. I'm betting that those that can afford to will live in the hot communities of Gaston, Union, York, Lancaster, Stanley and Lincoln counties. WHY?….

…..because if a county is going to keep taking money for schools and social programs; parents want that money spent on them, not people they perceive as free loaders……sorry if you don't like the term but that's is a very true feeling. They will find that emotion satisfied outside of Mecklenburg.

What Ann left out of her story is that almost all of that 5,000 growth around 2007 was FRL or nearly FRL families. Since 2004 the flight of brightest and the whitest has been in the 4000 student per year range. The figures are documented in the now defunct Equity Reports.

4000 affluent kids arrived. 4000 left for a net zero. 3000 to 5000 FRL made up each year's gain. Poor families don't leave Mecklenburg.

That presents two problems for CMS.

The first is the most serious because for years the district has been making the dumb-headed calculation that ALL FRL students require 30% more funding. That isn't logically possible but CMS does it anyway.

CMS is going to have to start evaluating students for the purpose of funding remedial education for those that actually can benefit from it.

The second problem is a shrinking tax base as homeownership shifts to lower-valued rental property.

The most recent UNCC Urban Institute study shows CMS's problem. A huge band of expensive to educate in the center of the county ( and growing). In the last few years that has become all rental via the foreclosure process.

There is a third problem I almost forgot. The Urban Institute maps show that families in the poorer urban areas do not want to send their kids to neighborhood schools. The map was startling. CMS is now in a frenzy feeding that habit. CMS wants to offer all families choices outside their neighborhoods. Transportation cost are going to soar. Fragile neighborhoods are going to be destroyed and lost forever.

Before CMS builds any more schools, it needs to stop and educate itself on the dynamics of schools and neighborhoods and how that perpetuates sound communities. That's the "choice" they should be thinking over.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

There is no "choice".

There is only ONE thing today in education. The race to the top for MONEY.

The BofE and MOrrison are only concerned with race to the top Federal money and / or the money from private foundations such as Broad and Gates.

Sad that our progressive city just follows the playbook of all the others.

Anonymous said...

Think of all the money, time and resources that would be saved by putting the money, time and resources into each neighborhood school. Why not? We wouldn't have buses running all over the county at crazy morning and afternoon times and the investment and benefits would be made right in the community/neighborhood where it belongs.

CharlotteObserver said...

Someone suggested rule were not being played by the Charter Schools and failed to mention what those rules were.

I do know two they are not following: First is they only get 70 cents on the dollar for their students from the State. So that thirty percent would be a great help to them.

Second if a child drops out of Charter on the very last day of school, the Charter must return the money. With our CMS they do not. So that is the second one.

Anonymous said...

11:20am Like! I agree that the investment in neighborhood schools should be the focus of CMS as we move forward. Trying to offer everything to everybody never works, and ends up costing more in the end. Making each neighborhood school the best it can be for the community is more progressive in thinking than the current model.

Anonymous said...

As parents of 15 and 10 year old children, we feel that our choice of where we moved 3 years ago to send our children to OUR choice CMS schools was good decision. Parenting and in-school class options will be the defining factors in our children's upbringing. All in all, CMS is a poor school system because it caters to public opinion rather then the public holding up their end and raising their children. There are CMS options, but you have to move to the right location to benefit.