Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Back-and-forth on education bonds continues

Central Piedmont Community College has launched its own  "Vote Yes for CPCC Bonds"  campaign,  in addition to the education bonds campaign led by the Charlotte Chamber and MeckEd.  Mecklenburg voters will be asked to approve $210 million for CPCC and $290 million for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools on Nov. 5.

Public bodies such as CMS and CPCC walk a fine line in promoting bonds.  State law prohibits using public money and resources to advocate for a  "yes"  or  "no"  vote,  and CPCC officials acknowledged in September they had crossed that line by forwarding an email from the  "Vote Yes"  campaign on President Tony Zeiss' work account.  But the CPCC campaign is funded by up to $50,000 in private money provided by the CPCC Foundation,  with no government money involved,  said spokesman Jeff Lowrance.

Lowrance said it's traditional for CPCC to run its own campaign in addition to chamber efforts to promote community college and K-12 bonds.

CMS,  meanwhile,  is pushing hard to provide information while stopping just short of advocating for a specific vote. Many schools are sending home copies of bond information from the district's web site,  often with notes like this one from Ballantyne Elementary's Bear Blast:

On November 5th, all registered voters in Mecklenburg County will have a chance to decide whether CMS receives $290 million in school bonds.  If approved, the bond money will be used to add classrooms, build new schools, repair again systems, and renovate older schools across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.  Please help show our students that every vote counts by taking part in the elections on November 5th.  ... Visit the CMS website for more information about the bond referendum and why strong public schools matter to all of us.  Please let us know if you have further questions and again, make your vote count on November 5th

Christine Mast,  who is running for the District 1 school board seat,  argues that such material is inappropriate.  "School communications are clearly being used for bond advocacy by getting our students to bring these documents home with them,"  she wrote in an email to Superintendent Heath Morrison.   The web site implies that "a  'yes'  bond vote is the only vote that supports public schools,"  she wrote.

CMS Chief Communication Officer Kathryn Block disagrees.  The wording  "informs people about how the bond money, if approved, would be used and the importance of participating in the voting process,"  she said.  "It does not advocate for a specific position."

Meanwhile,  Tom Davis from the north suburban SPARK and Tim Timmerman from the south suburban SMART sent out a statement calling for Mecklenburg's seven municipalities to provide money for a cost-of-living allowance for CMS teachers.  They say they hope to hear Charlotte mayoral candidates Patrick Cannon and Edwin Peacock address that proposal at Wednesday's  "Solving It Together"  public forum.

Davis and Timmerman are urging voters to vote down the CMS bonds.  The only connection to teacher raises is that they're promoting a  "teachers before bricks and mortar"  slogan.  Teachers are paid from the district's operating budget,  which is separate from the budget for construction and renovation,  though county property taxes support both.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

This bond vote will be more about Dr. Morrison's leadership, or lack thereof.

I would not say which way people should vote, but a no vote may hasten his departure.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Again, Larry, screen names are fine, but not those that misrepresent who you're speaking for.

Anonymous said...

Vote yes for CPCC as they provide training for small businesses and provide remediation for the CMS graduates who apply. Close to 95 percent of the CMS grads who applied to CPCC needed remediation courses.

And make them tell you Numbers Options on not getting the CMS Bonds. Why have we never had them say anything but more money.

See the class size, what folks get paid at CMS and just which group makes the growth at CMS happen. All at VoteNumbersOptionsforbonds.com

Anonymous said...

I agree that the info coming home from CMS schools with students is not appropriate. Our elementary principal sent the same info home. They are not sending the counter info home, why not?

Anonymous said...

CPCC yes.

CMS BOE: NO!!!!!

Must break up the downtown (uptown?) strangle hold on our education system. What other way can it be done?

Anonymous said...

Take some money from the overbloated CMS bureaucracy and you can fund schools.

Anonymous said...

Vote NO for both the CMS and CPCC bonds. If we are able to close schools and use mobile trailers then we do NOT need to pass the bonds for either entity. Down with the bonds. NO BONDS!!! NO BONDS!!!

Anonymous said...

"If approved, the bond money will be used to add classrooms, build new schools, repair again systems, and renovate older schools across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County."

Repair again systems?

Sounds like planned obsolescence to me.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:48, I didn't even notice that when I pasted in that block. I'm assuming that was autocorrect "helping" the school when they meant to say "aging."

BolynMcClung said...

2007 BONDS PAID FOR EMERGENCY SECURITY MEASURES AT EVERY SCHOOL.

WHY VOTE “YES”
I’m often asked why a person should vote for the bonds when there is either so little in it for their district or is so far out that their children will receive no benefit.

A GOOD EXAMPLE FOR “YES”
After the Sandy Hook Newtown tragedy, every school district in America had to beef-up security. CMS was not different and like the others had no money….it thought. But because three new schools from the 2007 bonds; Grand Oak, Bain and Pineville, had come in under budget there was surplus bond money to pay for emergency security at every school in every district.

CMS’ number one priority is safety. It was fortunate those funds were available.

This bond package is fiscally responsible. I support it.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville

Wiley Coyote said...

The new schools are part of the district’s push to offer public-school options to compete with charters and private schools while helping students develop skills for college and careers.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/21/4401566/morrison-to-outline-plans-for.html#storylink=cpy

Why is CMS asking taxpayers for money to compete with charters and private schools? Shouldn't that be the other way around?

If CMS had a great product offering over the years, it would be charters and private schools trying to emulate CMS.

Is this Morrison's opinion/admission that CMS has done a very poor job to this point of educating our kids and not keeping up with the times preparing our kids for their future?

Is this Morrison's opinion that areas of the county have been and still are being woefully neglected while other areas have been placated for years?

Is this Morrison's opinion that CMS had done a lousy job of placing some schools in the wrong areas and grossly missed population shifts in the planning of these schools? Prior to Gorman closing schools, some schools sat at half capacity or less. Now CMS wants to reopen some of these schools and build replacement schools?

Interesting that CMS has cut magnet transportation by implementing drop points, yet they are greatly expanding magnet programs, with two of them receiving $40,000 in vouchers for students to ride CATS to get there.

And Bolyn? My wife (West Meck 1980) and my son (West Meck 2011) greatly appreciate the over $5-$8 million approved in the 2007 bonds for refurbushing the football stadium that has nothing to do with academics or school security, even though my son never saw those upgrades the four years he was there and they still haven't been implemented from BOND MONIES FROM 2007.

9 Investigates: Portion of money approved years ago for CMS still hasn’t been used

...One upgrade was at West Mecklenburg High School. CMS planned to spend $8 million for a new stadium including a field house, track and artificial turf.

“What has happened since 2007?” Eyewitness News anchor Blair Miller asked.

“Around here? Virtually nothing,” Hardin said.

Plans now show the project is "on hold due to funding."

Yeah Bolyn, the $16 MILLION approved stadium upgrades in the 2007 bonds helped pay for security. Really??

It's exactly that kind of Monday morning quarterbacking from politicians/prospective politicians we don't need and to tie Sandy Hook into a bond vote that happened 6 years ago to push your agenda is disgusting.

There isn't a voter out there who would vote against emergency funding to upgrade security at our schools right now regardless of having money available from 2007...

VOTE NO ON CMS BONDS and ANY CANDIDATE WHO SUPPORTS THEM!

BolynMcClung said...

.
MR. WC

SUBJECT: HOW URBAN MYTHS ARE STARTED

WRONG
You're wrong about people voting against emergency funding for school security. That is in fact what happened.

If you'll remember, CMS' original request was for about $35 million. The County Commissioners(the representatives of the people) turned that down. So much for your generalizations about unanimous approval.

CMS had to redo the proposal at the lower $19.2M amount. That was approved.

EITHER BAD MEMORY OR LOGIC
Your assumptions about the source of the security funds are incorrect. Both the county and CMS attributed the source as the result of construction efficiencies. This was a public statement.

MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKING.
All I can say is security isn't an athletic event. But if you want to use that phrase, consider this one after another tragedy, "We should have had the money available."

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
.

Wiley Coyote said...

Bolyn...

Operative word in my comment is "voters", not politicians, regardless of whther they are "representatives of the people".

Perhaps "the people" would have approved the $35 million.

Christine Mast said...

Bolyn,

You stated there was a surplus to pay for "...emergency security at every school in every district."

Are you implying that all the security measures have been installed and paid for? I'm referring to things like a buzzer system at the front door, not student ID badges.

Christine Mast said...

Regarding District One and the 2007 Bond package that was approved by the voters...

Davidson IB was supposed to get a $6 million renovation, as this was a project contained in the "approved bond package."

Yet, Davidson IB was CLOSED, and the IB program was moved down to JM Alexander Middle. And for the people of Davidson, they not only lost the IB program, but they also lost the building to a private school.

For Highland Creek Elementary, one of the most overcrowded schools at the time, they, too, were supposed to get a relief school built (as a result of the 2007 Bond package).

To date, that school has not been built. We're in 2013. SIX YEARS LATER, and now CMS is asking for another bond vote.

For District One, this current bond package is not enough and takes way too long to fix our overcrowded conditions, especially at the elementary level.

For those reasons, I am voting NO to the CMS Bonds.

T. Davis said...

Something to think about. The area from Mt Island Lake area to UNCC area and North to Davidson will only net THREE Classrooms FOUR years out with another Davidson promise of an addition in 6 years. This represents a large area North of downtown. The SPARK Position Paper asked for these bonds to be deferred as this was not a classroom solution package but a "jobs" package for all the contractors. 70 plus trailers in D1 and no solutions on the horizon if this bond package passes.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Mast,

I agree with you on Davidson IB. That decision was spearheaded by the current District 1 representative and voted for almost unanimously by the board.

However, since you are running for the seat on the BOE, I am sure you know that the County controls when the money is released to be spent from the bond packages. So your issue with the delay in the relief school for Highland Creek, needs to be taken up with our county commissioners and their new ranking system, not by voting against the bond.

Also the bond includes a much needed replacement school for JM Alexander.

Wiley Coyote said...

Here is how CMS says they do great planning:

Mountain Island Elementary School

4/29/2002 No mobiles, still under construction

3/12/2003 No mobiles, school opened 8/2002

5/14/2004 2 Mobiles

2/24/2005 10 Mobiles

9/8/2005 12 Mobiles

3/30/2007 18 Mobiles

10/3/2008 22 Mobiles (not counting 1 sitting in parking lot)

4/10/2010 19 Mobiles

4/9/2013 12 Mobiles (The principal has stated while there are 12 mobiles there, only 2 are being "somewhat utilized".)

...and now CMS wants to make this a K-8 STEM school with no athletic facilites and add mobiles each year for grades 6-8, while Coulwood sits 8/10 of a mile away with 6-8, athletic fields and 30 acres of land.

I'm not picking on this school and I encourage STEM schools. Just using this - my opinion - as an example of flawed planning....

Anonymous said...

I bet if you contact Pete at Amplify we can redirect some unused bond money for some refurbished tablets via Guilford County. If Pete doesn't respond call Mo and Nora or News Corp.

Anonymous said...

Seriously-who would vote YES for bonds? Suburban people who know that the funds will not go to their children? Sorry, CMS fix stuff you can right now and then maybe you'll get my vote.

Ann-can you explain the purpose of quarterly planning during school hours? Waste of school time.

Christine Mast said...

Anon @ 1:30pm,

I completely agree that part of the issue lies with the disconnect between the way the County & CMS ranks projects.

That disconnect could have and should have been addressed by the current BOE, including the current District One representative. And if discussions were had, nothing EFFECTIVE ever came out to fix the disconnect.

So here we are, six years removed from the last successful bond vote, still waiting for Highland Creek's relief school to come out of the DESIGN phase.

Regarding JMA, the "new" building included in the current bond package is netting THREE classrooms over the current building. How is a net of 3 classes going to help our overcrowded conditions in District One?

I agree with the SPARK/SMART Position Paper, that asked CMS to delay this bond vote and find a more appropriate solution to the overcrowded conditions we have up here in the North.

Nothing is stopping CMS from bringing another Bond package to the voters one year from now.

Further, the County has two other options to fund capital projects: COPs (Certificates of Participation) and PAYGO. Why couldn't CMS come up with a more appropriate request for District One and ask the County to fund the project(s) that way?

Even if this Bond package is passed by the voters, no money can or will be spent until at least July 1, 2014.

Christine Mast said...

And one more issue for those voters in District One and District Six...

http://susanspaulding.com/2013/07/17/cms-bond-oversight-committee-062713/

"The new capital project has been given the green light by the county. This new bond might be viable because it now has projects in Districts 1 and 6. The original green light from the county on this capital plan had no projects in Districts 1 and 6 and this could have caused the entire bond to fail."

Hmmmm....

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

.
TO: Christine


SECURITY - SAY THE LEAST POSSIBLE AND STAY VIGILANT!

I would advise that the status of any security measure not be discussed in public. The least said about this makes all our students safer.

One of the few good education laws passed last session was making SLT minutes not subject to the Open Meeting Laws. Other similar minutes have been added to the restricted list.

We protect our children in many ways. Some are real obstructions and others are the secrecy of our plans.

I hope everyone takes this approach. Silence is golden.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
.

Anonymous said...

Of course CMS schools are only giving out the "vote Yes" info.

Cut the Downtown bureaucracy first!

Heath, what time will the new UNCC high school start?

Anonymous said...

Remember voters, Grand Oak ES to relieve Torrence Creek was not built with bond funds.

Anonymous said...

District 1 is still far behind meeting capacity needs that started with the BOE's war on the suburbs in 1998.

Anonymous said...

K-8 at MIE is ridiculous waste of money. The real issues are the student assignment plan and the mess of a school that CMS has allowed Coulwood Middle to become. A portion of the school from to Coulwood and then Hopewell instead of Bradley then Hopewell so those parents spend K-5 on waiting lists for Lake Norman, Lincoln, and Mountain Island charter schools. And most of the other families assigned to Coulwood try to leave for magnets or charters too.
The easy/inexpensive fix? Fix the student assignment plan (Bradley's enrollment is reportedly down anyway) and put together a plan to improve, Couldwood. The ridiculous amount of money it will take to create a K-8 just a few miles from a half empty middle school could be pit to much better use. And while the MIE community wants a fix that will stabilize enrollment, many are saying that they will not leave their kids at MIE for 6-8th grades if the school becomes a K-8. CMS has been told this and they don't care. They have their minds set on K-8 and are ignoring any dissenting views. HUGE WASTE OF MONEY!

Wiley Coyote said...

2:23...

Excellent assessment.

Coulwood is 0.827 miles from MIE as the crow flies and 1.1 miles on the road. Paw Creek is the same distance to Coulwood as MIE.

Coulwood sits on over 30 acres of land and MIE a tad over 16 acres.

I'm not sure what kind of critical thinking skills CMS is teaching but...

Anonymous said...

Yes Bolyn, I think you are on to something!

Please stay quiet.

Thanks!!

District 6

Anonymous said...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/23/north-carolina-gun-concealed-carry_n_3642182.html


the new law allows teachers to bring concealed weapons on campus for protection or in case of emergency. be sure to keep vehicle securely locked at all times to avoid theft.

if you are carrying or have a piece keep it under wraps and never use social media or emails to advise anyone you are packing heat.

Ann Doss Helms said...

2:12, yes it was. Grand Oak is a 2007 bond project.

Anonymous said...

CMS is supposed to present the MIE K-8 and Coulwood plans to the BOE tonight. Not sure what magic money tree the K-8 $$ come from, but it's not from the bond proposal.

Anonymous said...

Westside school already receive 3X per pupil spending than the suburb schools, even without the input of PROJECT LIFT.

Why would anyone living in the suburbs vote YES on the bonds?

Anonymous said...

Vote NO NO NO NO NO NO for both the CMS and CPCC bonds. Please, I beg of you, vote NO NO NO NO NO. The two institutions both have millions upon millions of dollars stashed away. Vote NO NO NO NO

Wiley Coyote said...

3:57

Mountain Island Elementary Transition to K-8
Position 42

Impact:

To allow students to continue STEM focus through grade eight.

Description:

Add K-8 program to Mountain Island, growing a grade each year starting with sixth grade (will maintain school-wide STEM focus).

No athletics at Mountain Island K-8; may participate at Coulwood.

Will result in smaller enrollment at Coulwood.

Use mobile units for grades expansion in grades six –eight.2014-15 Explore

Engage Coulwood community in various program and grade-level configurations, including options for magnet focus and levels six –eight or K-8.

Project contingent on future voter-approved bonds and subsequent county funding authorization.

Anonymous said...

Bolyn, you say protect our children and as a SLT member I agree with you. Now write that down ,because it's rare that we agree. NOW protect the children, BUT it's okay to use children and school resources as pawns to get Bonds passed? Read what you write next time before hitting send please. Keith W. Hurley VOTE NO BONDS!

Anonymous said...

Ann, I do nonsupport the bond for the following reasons. 1) the 2007 bond package resulted in a county tax increase via inflated property values. 2) unaffiliated private influenced money is funding the PR campaign to promote the package. 3) the current PR campaign is not truthful and I selling a potential myth. 4) CMS is using children and school resources to solicit passing the bonds. Their is not one ounce of potential negative information in the solicitation. 5) after reviewing current campaign finance reports of sitting board members I notice a lot of money going to one member from chamber connections. The PR fund and this members funds seem to be influenced by a common core if you will. 6) the observer and your articles seem very one sided towards the money side of the bonds. 7) sadly CMS has not earned my TRUST to vote yes on a bond package.
If the bond package does not get approved it would be a huge defeat and slap in the face. You would not need a study to learn that. What you will learn is people are sick of being lied too and taken for a CMS bus ride. Keith W. Hurley - VOTE NO BONDS !!!!

Anonymous said...

"5) after reviewing current campaign finance reports of sitting board members I notice a lot of money going to one member from chamber connections. "

Hey, that's the way "bidness" is done in the QC.

Just ask our next mayor.

He knows how to play.

When the call went out for a "minority" owned business to get a lucrative city contract, he was only too happy to put some skin in the game.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone refer to the new security measures being implemented as safe? Every child with a key that can be lost? Give me a break! Our schools just got opened up to anyone!

Anonymous said...

Is it me or has school been even worse this year than in the past?

Please comment with your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I support breaking up this disfunctional school system into manageable systems. I certainly do not trust this CMS BOE with any money.

Anonymous said...

How can anyone refer to the new security measures being implemented as safe? Every child with a key that can be lost? Give me a break! Our schools just got opened up to anyone!

Anonymous said...

Ms Mast- aren't you an accountant? If so you should know what a fiscal year is and why there is no money for this bond referendum available until next July. That is the start of the next fiscal year........ they didn't budget in this fiscal year for a bond that hasn't even been approved. Accounting 101 dear.
You and your Sparky friend like to twist the facts and mislead.

Wiley Coyote said...

New definition of insanity:

• A STEM magnet at Coulwood Middle School, opening with 100 sixth-graders in August. The request for a magnet came from the Coulwood community.

• Allowing fifth-graders at Mountain Island Elementary to stay there for sixth grade, the first step toward converting to a K-8 school. School families have asked for the change. It would be a neighborhood school with a STEM focus.

These two schools are a mile apart.

This is ridiculous. Spend the money at Coulwood to upgrade it and move on.

Expand Couldwood to a K-8 STEM/magnet theme and close MIE or lease it to a charter school.

Wiley Coyote said...

From 2005, the massive $427 million bond referendum that was voted down:

CMS enrollment projection:

...CMS estimates an enrollment of 120,000 students now, and that number is expected to increase by 53,000 in the next 10 years.

120,000 students in 2005, projected to add 5,300 per year for 10 years.

That was 8 years ago. At 5,300 projected students per year, CMS in 2013 should be at 162,400 students.

CMS has 144,140 this year.

Where is all that growth BOE?

Anonymous said...

District 6 voter here - voting NO as the money won't go here. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

District 6 voter here - split CMS into three school systems. Then I'll vote for bonds that go to our system. Simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Christine--I am a teacher in CMS who lives in district 1 and you will not be getting my vote. All I've heard from you is about bell schedules and renovations of schools with huge PTA budgets and high test scores. I teach in a low-income school in district 1, and its clear to me that you are unbelievably removed from the real issues of this school district. I appreciate you advocating for your own children and other kids like them....but I need a representative who is also dedicated to students like mine. They don't get the same level of advocacy as your children. I'm not saying the other issues don't matter, but when we have the dropout rates and reading proficiency levels that we do...let's focus on that first.

Also-as long as you continue to act adversarially toward other board members and Dr. Morrison, you will not be effective. If you are elected, please learn to work within the system instead of just refusing to attend events and sending passive (or not so passive) aggressive emails.

Anonymous said...

Christine,

While I agree with you about District 1 being overcrowded, some of that can be eased by rezoning. Not all of school construction should result in a net add of classrooms. The physical buildings at JM Alexander are severely outdated, I would say even more outdated than the older Davidson IB was.

As far as your comment about the school system trying to get the county to fund projects for District 1 by other means.... Ok, so please support the bonds and once you are elected to the BOE you can work on getting the county to go along with that idea.

I would like to see more in the bond package for District 1, and for the items affecting District 1 to happen sooner, but voting no for the bond is not going to help that.. In fact, it will do just the opposite. The items in the bond for District 1 are needed.

I would also like to state that I appreciate you expressing your opinions as a candidate for my district, even though I do not agree with them.

Anonymous said...

Just read the article about the possiblity of "hundreds of options." Seriously-if you live in district 6-VOTE NO. None of the options apply to you.

Stop letting CMS spend money when none goes to our kids.

District 1 Voter said...

Christine -

I don't understand why you focus so much on "only" gaining three classrooms at JMA. That school is not overcrowded.

So tell me, if you don't like the bond package because it doesn't address our needs fast enough - what's your plan to address them faster? Certainly the person who is upset about "losing a year" to establish bench marks for measuring Strategic Plan initiatives isn't advocating for losing time by trying to reinvent the capital funding process?

If you think the process stinks, work to effect change - but don't handcuff this district in the interim.

Wiley Coyote said...

8:47

CMS has to be handcuffed. It's the only way to force them to stop wasting tax dollars.

Think - silos.

Christine Mast said...

To the Snarky Anon 10:09pm poster,

Yes, I am an accountant and a CPA. I stated a fact about when the bond money would be available. Not sure which facts you're accusing me of twisting.

Christine Mast said...

To Anon District One Teacher at 6:43am:

Please visit my website to see more information about issues I've spoken about during this campaign. You'll find many more stories other than "bell schedules and renovations of schools with huge PTA budgets and high test scores."

ChristineMastforCMS.weebly.com

Regarding the children I "care about," you have been grossly misinformed. I care about all the kids in District One. My two kids actually attend an elementary school that is NEITHER Title One, NOR an affluent school. We have almost 50% FRL, and over one-third ESL. We receive so little funding for our technology, that we have to hold a large fundraiser every year, just to get our teachers and students the technology they need in the classrooms.

Finally, if you want to vote for someone that will "get along simply for the sake of getting along," then you're correct. I'm not the candidate for you.

Christine Mast said...

To Anon 7:41am,

Thank you for your comments.

Regarding rezoning, yes, I agree, that could work. But CMS seems to have handcuffed themselves by not wanting to touch any more rezoning, as they've made such a mess of it in the past.

I have to disagree with your statement that a "no" vote will delay District One projects even further. The Bond package calls for JMA to be done 4 years from now, and for the Davidson K-8 to happen 6 years from now.

If we vote "no" on the Bonds, why can't CMS ask the County for COPs or PAYGO next year for those District One projects? Why handcuff ourselves into a bond package that is scheduled so far out into the future?

Again, I am NOT against school bonds. I AM against this particular package that is too slow and not enough for our District.

Christine Mast said...

District One Voter,

Our D1 elementary schools are overcrowded. If we're trying to grow our IB program, why don't we want the room for the elementary students to come to JMA?

Thanks for referencing my comments on the Strategic Plan. I completely agree that CMS has to move faster. Please see my prior posts regarding options to the Bond package... COPs and/or PAYGO funds.

And respectfully, that's exactly what I've been trying to do for over two years now... effect change. That's why I threw my hat into the ring for the District One seat.

District 1 Voter said...

Christine,

Thank you for your response.

My point is that there IS room for the district's IB students at JMA...and the replacement school will allow for even more room.

I'm curious why you think the county would be willing to issue COPS (which are more expensive) any faster than they are willing to issue these bonds. Or why you think they would issue more? It's about fiscal responsibility and how much debt the county can afford to service.

Also, it's important to note that the county's capital improvement plan already includes $414 million in paygo expenditures. Are you asserting that they actually have more paygo money available?

Lastly, as an education advocate myself I have the utmost respect for anyone who steps up and digs in to make a difference. Especially those who do so on a volunteer basis. I'm just struggling to understand how you plan to be effective. Respectfully, this district has no shortage of folks who point out problems....what we need are people with solutions.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine,

District 1 title 1 teacher here again. I'm a little taken aback by your response. I've been on your website and your Facebook page...and unless I'm missing something, I haven't seen anything about the achievement gap, keeping great teachers in title 1 schools, reading or math proficiency...etc. please point me in the right direction if I'm missing it.

I also didn't say you should just get along to get along. My administration would assure you I don't operate that way. But the combative tone and words I've seen you use on Facebook do make me nervous. Passion for change is a wonderful thing, and I share that with you...but I worry about your effectiveness in bringing about change given the way you talk about/to district leadership.

I know where you kids go to school (I promise I'm not a creep...it was on one of your pages). And my opinion is that elementary school has a wonderful principal, an experienced and incredibly stable teaching faculty, and a team of dedicated parents (I'm sure yourself included). My only point was that there are many kids in district 1 who don't have advocates like you as their parent, and I need a rep with a strong dedication to them. If that's you, then I want to hear more on the issues I mentioned, and less about how much Highland creek needs more space.

Anonymous said...

The JM Alexander replacement school is desperately needed, and as a JMA parent I agree that the school does not need more classrooms- it just needs a building that is not falling apart. Voting no for the bonds will result in no funding for replacement schools. There is absolutely no evidence that COPS or any alternative source of funding will be made available.

I am no fan of the current District 1 representative as she has not done enough to advocate for our district's schools (and her role in closing DIB was particularly galling). But Ms. Mast also seems to have only criticism and no new solutions. Her opposition to the bonds while purporting to support JMA shows a complete lack of common sense. I will be voting for our current representative until someone from our district steps up with positive and common sense solutions.

Christine Mast said...

To latest comments directed at me:

I respectfully disagree with those that say I'm only complaining and not offering solutions. Will all my solutions work? I don't know. But I have offered many many suggestions for ways to improve issues in District One. Alternatively, what has my opponent offered?

I offered COPs and PAYGO as an alternative to the current bond package.

Similarly, I support the latest addendum from SPARK/SMART, asking the Townships, including the City of Charlotte, to help supplement teachers' pay with COLAs. At last evening's Mayoral Forum, both candidates agreed that the City should help, "where they can."

I am advocating for an EFFECTIVE Strategic Plan, one with performance indicators that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-Oriented and Timely) Goals, not blank "TBD".

I am advocating for strong School Leadership Teams (SLTs), with effective SMART goals in the School Improvement Plans (SIPs). Each school's SLT could formulate the methodology to close achievement gaps, raise math and reading proficiency, etc. The schools know what they need to accomplish these goals, including any necessary funding requests. The SIPs are a way of asking for that help from Central Office.

We all need to remember that SLTs are mandated by State Statute to not only create and submit SIPs to District Leadership, but are also required to post their membership lists, meeting minutes (excluding discussions about safety issues) and SIPs on their school websites. I checked all our D1 schools, and overwhelmingly, we are not following that State mandate. This also needs to be fixed.

I want to analyze the Billion $ Operating Budget. I want to use my CPA and other career experience to get that done. When has the Operating Budget EVER been put to that kind of scrutiny?

Finally, I would offer up to you to read the numerous profiles posted on my "LINKS" page of my website. Each source asked questions of me, and my responses are contained within the links.

http://www.weebly.com/weebly/main.php

District 1 Voter said...

Christine,

Again, I appreciate your response. But I asked you for details and didn't receive an answer. You're suggesting COPs and PAYGO as an alternative to the bonds on the ballot, but I'm asking WHY you think those will serve the community differently.

You've presented yourself as a highly trained accountant who studies and interprets data. To that end, I'm asking for your detailed plan to quickly and efficiently meet the needs of D1 students. Specifically:

1) Why do you think the County will be willing to issue COPs at a different rate than they are willing to issue these CO bonds?

2) Are you asserting that the County has more PAYGO money available than they are telling us? If so, how much?

I respect your admission that you don't know if all of your solutions will work. That's reasonable. But so is my assertion that it's irresponsible to promote COPs and PAYGO as an alternative without doing the research to know whether or not it's viable. What a disservice we would do to our community if we voted against the bonds, only to learn later that COPs and PAYGO funding don't offer a better solution.

This type of research should be done before reaching the conclusion that you didn't support the bonds. Especially if you're asking for the honor of representing this community where the job goes far beyond simply coming up with ideas, but more importantly requires "selling" your ideas not only to constituents, but also to the rest of the BOE (and in this case the County Commissioners) if elected. As you've said, collaboration means nothing if it's not effective.

I look forward to your detailed response.

Wiley Coyote said...

District 1 Voter,

The abomination CMS is trying to push with MIE and Coulwood should be reason enough to NOT vote for the bonds.

We've seen this movie before; Waddell and Whitewater in the past. Waddell build for placating a base, built in the wrong place and Whitewater built with bad data projections. Whitewater sat there greatly underutilized until we were forced to close schools.

CMS/public education has been kicking the status quo can down the road long enough.

It's time to get their attention and tell them we have had enough.

...another District 1 Voter.

District 1 Voter said...

Wiley,

I understand that it's easy to find reasons to vote agains the bonds. But I'm trying to find some balance in how people plan to serve the needs of the students.

If you're asking folks in communities that are being affected by the bonds (JMA, Davidson Elem, Bailey Middle, North Meck, etc.) to vote against them, you'd better be able to present a viable alternative.....and I have yet to see that.

Any ideas?

Wiley Coyote said...

District 1 Voter

1 - Eliminate diversity (whatever the diversity flavor of the day might be, racial, economic, etc.) in any decision making process.

2 - Assign every area of the County an elementary, middle and high school home school. That is the school your child will attend unless you decide to place them in a magnet or other CMS offering.

3 - STOP the proposed MIE/Coulwood type fiascos countywide.

4 - Put together a fact based, independently verified plan for new schools and renovations that are needs and not wants.

5 - Hire someone with a brain that knows how to look at population shifts and build schools or add on where needed and if adding on temporarily with mobiles is a solution, then do it.

6 - CLOSE SCHOOLS WHERE NEEDED. The world will not come to an end if we close a school. Sell the property, bulldoze it or let the county take over the property and utilize it for whatever, but get out of the real estate business and "holding onto schools".

7 - Once it is established that CMS has developed some modicum of common sense, I have no problem voting for bonds. These people can't even get a bell schedule right and they want MORE money?

NADA!

Regarding the communities affected by whatever their issues are, I would just say go cast your vote, as I intend to. They aren't the only people with issues in the county to be affected one way or the other by the vote.

District 1 Voter said...

Wiley -

Much respect! I agree with a number of your points and I can understand your position clearly. You want a consistent and common sense approach to our district's issues - and that's understandable.

Where I get "in the weeds" is when someone, Mrs. Mast for instance, says that we should vote against the bond package because it doesn't address our specific issues fast enough. More specifically she's said that it will only net JMA 3 classrooms 4 years from now, and that's unacceptable. So, I've asked how she plans to net JMA more classroom faster....and have yet to receive a response to that question.

Thanks for your thoughts, Wiley. I really appreciate the dialogue and I think we have a lot in common.

Christine Mast said...

District One Voter,

What is the alternative? The first and most important step is for CMS to honor the 2007 Bonds of $18,585,600 for a New Highland Creek Relief ES that will furnish 39 new classrooms (to relieve current overcrowding). The project is still on hold in the design phase, with 0% construction progress.

The question should be asked in every District: will this project give more "seats" for students. Why? Because academic achievement is the #1 Goal for CMS and reduced class sizes enhances academic achievement. 35 students packed into a classroom versus 25 or less students enhance learning. Are new gyms at Independence HS & Myers Park HS, and new stadiums at Olympic HS more important than classrooms?

Why COPs & PAYGO? Once this bond package is passed & committed, we are locked in for the next 6 years. There is $200M unspent from 2007 and $290M current = $590M, with Commissioners advising only $100M a year will be spent. Therefore, we will wait longer for future classrooms that may or may not be needed, especially if Charter Schools are built in the meantime, as is currently happening in this rapidly changing environment.

COPs have been used for critical issues in 1999 ($50M), 2004 ($98.5M), 2005 ($73.9M), 2006 ($154.7M), 2007 ($16.5M) and again in 2008 ($58M). This is a more flexible way to spend monies in our rapidly changing environment.

In the meantime, the County and CMS need to come to terms on how we calculate "growth." The County is using data by precincts, but has no details on families and children in those household or where they live. This leads to inaccurate projections, and results in the County telling CMS where to build schools. This is simply wrong.

The public should be seeing how many classrooms seats will be gained, because again, academic achievement -- through reduced classrooms -- should be the #1 priority. The COPS and PAYGO gives CMS the FLEXIBILITY year to year to make wise decisions, and not be locked into a rigid projection some 5 to 6 years out.

Tearing down a brick structure or leasing at a low price to a faith based organization or netting only 3 classrooms is not financially or strategically sound.

Hopefully this answers your questions. This has been done before successfully, and should be implemented again until the Charter Schools and Vouchers are evaluated on the impact to CMS. Past predictions on growth have not come true and were overestimated. We need solid data to build for the future.

Finally, I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed questions. I hope you're asking the same questions of my opponent. I'd be interested in her answers.

Anonymous said...

To D 1 Voter
Appears Wiley and Ms Mast have offered numerous suggestions and solutions to the problems facing D1. Gaining THREE Classrooms at Alexander 4 years out and no more til 6 years out in Davidson if then is the best option offered by the current D1 Rep. As another D1 voter, it is time to send the BOCC a message that their computation of registered voters vs actual kids in household is wrong. A NO vote will be their first wake up call to allow CMS to manage their student growth and get politics out of funding. It is not only D1, check out the problems of Albermarle School on overcrowding.

Anonymous said...

Another District 1 voter here:

Christine, what are your thoughts on

a) Investigations math curriculum in elementary school

b) teacher tenure

c) using performance based pay when we don't have an effective value added measure. for example, a 3rd grade teacher could help her students grow 2 years in reading, but if they're still below grade level, an EOG score won't measure that growth (which is unbelievably significant growth).

District 1 Voter said...

Christine,

Again, I appreciate your detailed response. You've addressed a number things and brought many ideas forward. In an effort to get back to the questions I asked, I'm going to outline what I understand your plan to be. Would you mind confirming for me whether I'm on the right track or not?

From your response above, it appears that if the bonds are not approved by the voters you plan to advocate for the County and CMS to reassess the way they calculate growth, then to use COPs funding to address CMS' capital needs on a year by year basis. Is this correct?

If so, what are your thoughts on the political effects on this plan? Relying on the BOCC and the BOE to put together a small bond package every year to address CMS' needs sounds cumbersome to me. Especially with every district representative wanting to make sure their district is well represented each time around, which will be virtually impossible when spreading $290M over 6 years (I'm treating those number as static because it's what the County has agreed they can spend).

I completely agree that the ability to respond to emerging needs as they arise is imperative. But I'm not sure we lose that ability with the current bond package. As we've learned, the bond money doesn't have to be spent the way it's planned to be spent. We saw that the last go-round, with understandably mixed reviews.

We can advocate all day and all night, send emails, attend town halls, etc. but the rubber meets the road when we walk into our poling place. I see value in casting my vote to earmark $290M for CMS capital needs. It eases my fear and distrust, because I've given my elected officials parameters within which they must work. We don't know what the BOCC & BOE will look like after this election....so voting against the bonds in hopes that all of these folks will be able to work together, assess our needs, appropriately prioritize them and address them equitably feels like a craps shoot to me.

To address your final point, Christine - I have asked your opponent many many questions not only recently but over the last four year. While I've not agreed with all of her answers or always enjoyed the delivery, I've respected her expertise and experience and I've learned a lot from her. I hope you see that I'm trying to give you the same courtesy by asking questions and making sure I understand your responses.

To Anon @ 11:43am -

I love your passion! And if we could find a constructive plan to get the BOCC out of CMS' business, I'd join that cause in a heartbeat!! It's funny that you mention Albemarle Road - I was in Albemarle Road Elem on Friday and it was AMAZING! I think I've fallen in love with that school. 1,300+ students and that administrative team is unbelievable. We thought 1,200+ suburban kids was a lot to handle. Try 1,300+ students in a Title I school with over 1/3 of the population not proficient in English. The way the community has embraced that school is nothing short of amazing....and I can't wait to go back and dig in myself. Interested in joining me?

Christine Mast said...

Another District 1 voter:

a) Investigations math curriculum in elementary school -- I'll need to research more about this and get back to you

b) teacher tenure -- the entire HR system needs to be reviewed... our policies and procedures do not reflect effective and workable practices (ie length of teacher contracts, performance-based pay, performance reviews, etc.)

c) using performance based pay -- I've always said the "devil is in the details," and I have yet to see any proposals that make sense... until I do, I don't support performance-based pay

Christine Mast said...

D1 Voter,

"Is this correct?"

In part. The County could do the right thing and use CMS data to figure future growth for the whole County and have a comprehensive bond package on the 2014 ballot where more voters will be voting. There is approx $200M in the pipeline, so the sky has not fallen. As shown before, COPs were used successfully and are being used yearly for projects that are not brought before the public for a vote.

"If so, what are your thoughts on the political effects on this plan?"

There is no need to do a yearly bond package, if the correct data is calculated to show growth and use the Superintendent's Strategic Plan to tie programs to buildings. They could easily come back in 2014 for a 5 year plan. The bond package is not all brick and mortar, with some good programs being a bigger part of the package than previously. This is both financially and politically sound.

"I completely agree that the ability to respond to emerging needs as they arise is imperative. But I'm not sure we lose that ability with the current bond package."

There is a reason a citizen's advisory board called the "Bond Oversight Committee" was created. Once you deviate from the proposed pathway, then public scrutiny becomes more paramount. We witnessed that at the MeckEd forum this week, when several people stood up and expressed disgust with the failure to delivery on promises made in the 2007. We need to get this right now, and not have to second guess and change major decisions in the next 5 years.

"I see value in casting my vote to earmark $290M for CMS capital needs."

It may feel safe and secure, but remember bond packages have failed before, and a better package emerged. The Martin Committee brought more diverse groups together that resulted in over $500M being spent on brick and mortar. The difference now is that a new model could evolve with more monies spent on programs and utilizing some empty buildings, rather than tearing them down.

"I hope you see that I'm trying to give you the same courtesy by asking questions and making sure I understand your responses."

Thank you for following up with my opponent. End of the day, we keep hearing her tout "collaboration and working with others." My opponent's endorsements speak volumes of her lack of effectiveness; these are the same people that have been labeled the enemies of public education in North Carolina. I support a COLA for Teachers, yet my opponent says it's against the law and refuses to endorse the “idea”. I support smaller school districts like Mooresville Graded, that is tops in the Nation, yet my opponent wants to keep the same status quo 500 square miles failing system. I know that 3 classrooms added in 4 years and no more for 6 years in Davidson is the wrong pathway for D1. Although we do agree on some points, we do not agree on the major issues. People have a choice when they walk into the voting booth. Vote for effective change or keep the status quo. Thank you for your questions and interest. Hopefully you can identify yourself after the election and we can continue this dialogue to improve our students' performance.