Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rezone your neighborhood? CMS now has a process

Some of the bitterest battles in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools involve residents who believe that their neighborhood ought to be zoned for a different school.

They bring personal stories and reams of data,  hoping to make their case.  They talk about having to drive past the closest school to get to the one their kids are assigned to,  or about being split from the rest of their neighborhood by a seemingly arbitrary boundary.  Often they're sent away,  and when a neighborhood request does get school board approval it raises questions about why one got through and not the others. Generally,  it has been confusing and frustrating for all concerned.

On Tuesday,  Superintendent Heath Morrison and Student Placement Director Scott McCully told the school board about a new process for handling such requests  (it starts on page 21 of this report).

There's a ranking process to size up the merits of each request,  with travel distance and effective use of resources as top-priority concerns.  Keeping neighborhoods together and protecting economic diversity at schools are a bit lower on the list,  and stability,  predictability and keeping elementary zones intact also factor in.

Jeremy Stephenson of southeast Charlotte's Crown Colony neighborhood described himself as ecstatic to get this far.  That neighborhood has long struggled to get rezoned from East Meck to Providence.

"Dr. Morrison last October met our request, and all others, with the call for such a process map, and now one is in place,"  Stephenson said in an email.  "We view this as a further boost of Dr. Morrison’s credibility with the community writ large."

McCully listed 13 neighborhoods that have made requests for boundary changes.  Four,  including Crown Colony,  have submitted the formal request to start the new review process,  he said.  Morrison said he'll bring any staff recommendations to the board in November.  Even if the staff decides against a  request, Morrison said the board will get the information so members can come to their own conclusion.


Anonymous said...

I had to get a couple board transfers when I was in CMS. They rezoned my neighborhood 4 times while I was in school (I never moved). I got the transfers to be able to go to school with me friends. My neighborhood was a small neighborhood with about 30-50 white kids in it total. I started at Rama Road and went there until the 2nd grade. Then they built Crown Point, so I was bused from Sardis and Sardis Rd North to Crown Point out near Independence High. In 5th grade they opened Greenway park which I could almost walk to but I wasnt allowed to go there. Then I went to middle school and they sent me to McClintock. After a year they decided I needed to go to Albermarle rd middle. I got a board transfer back to McClintock to stay with friends. Went to high school at East Meck only to be switched to Butler (got another transfer to East). It is stressful and damaging to children to keep moving them around

Anonymous said...

Get ready Cotwold to be transfered to East Meck!

Anonymous said...

I hope Madison Park is one that has submitted a rezoning request. Having more than half the kids at Sedgefield and Harding is ridiculous when AG and Myers Park are much closer.

Anonymous said...

Having a process in place for rezoning is great for those wanting to be rezoned (emphasis on wanting), but will this create a ripple effect? In other words, if a neighborhood is rezoned to a close by school will that bump another neighborhood out?

Anonymous said...

9:30--When my children were in school and we had to battle frequent reassignments it always amazed me how cavalier board members,public officials, activists, and, dare I say, many journalists were about moving children around, as if having to switch schools and leave friends behind every few years was no big deal. A central office employee, who headed up a department, once told me the tale of his school days--how playing a sport at Myers Park really put him on track to make something of himself, including a possible college scholarship. But his junior year his assignment was changed to West Charlotte. He found it hard to fit in with a new team, new school routine and finally dropped out and fathered a child at way too young an age. It was only years later that he earned his GED and eventually went on to college. Sure, he eventually succeeded, but I wonder if a lot of pain could not have been avoided if he had been able to continue where he was thriving. And I wonder how many other lives have been disrupted and changed by frequent reassignments, thus weakening ties to school and education.

Wiley Coyote said...

What do you expect when the only criteria for the past 45 years has been basing school boundaries on racial and income "diversity"?

Another reason to vote NO ON BONDS!

CMS is asking for new schools and plans to reinvent the assignment wheel in the process.


Wiley Coyote said...

CMS is about to bury Coulwood Middle School with their insane attempt to make MIE a middle school.

The southeastern boundary between MIE and Coulwood will only be 3 1/2 blocks from Couldwood.

This is educrat stupidity at its best.


Anonymous said...

Where the heck did the BOE and CMS pick up the "I'd like to lift up..." phrase that was used multiple times last night? I find it highly annoying!

Anonymous said...

If the phrase "I'd like to lift up" was overused at CMS, you can bet it comes from one of two places:

The church or the ghetto.

Or maybe both.

Anonymous said...

So now a community that has a need can just shout out to CMS and say move me move me I have needs? Why does CMS not do its own work and zone kids to closest possible school or have a 2 option system? Its really basic and you cannot keep changing school zones every 4 years. Since you wont change the bell schedule give me a early and a late then I will choose. Both buses already go past my house for both schools so its no burden. Simple system for simple minds CMS can even handle this. You also have a full time employee sitting downtwon being paid and now that parents can do his job. Wonderful ! Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...


My personal favorite is "stakeholder"...but my definition is one who has a stake in one hand and a mallet in the other standing over the tax dollar sucking vampire that is CMS....

Happy Halloween!

Shamash said...

My pet peeve is the word "share" when used by hucksters and con men.

As in, "I'd like to share something with you".

Unfortunately when people offer to "share" something with me, it's rarely anything I want.

Even if it is "free".

Now if someone would offer to share some money, pizza, or beer, then I'm open to that.

Barb S. said...

May I SHARE my thoughts....How about "thinking outside the boundary" on this one CMS? Offer options to families, they can pick from one of the 2-3 closest schools to them, and they can provide their own transportation for their student(s) if they do not choose the closest (neighborhood) school. I just saved CMS lots of money money and gave families options. Already existing CMS office bureaucrats could manage this system quite easily. You're welcome

Anonymous said...

East Meck does not need to lose any more students. Its time the people in the Cotswold area (Sharon Amity and Monroe Rd)go to East Meck. The last rezone did nothing but hurt East Meck.
Also, CMS needs to rezone the East Learning area again and make Rocky River a better school. There's no reason why the East Learning area can not have 4 good/equal high schools. Rezone all students and make East Meck, Butler, Independence and Rocky River all better. This is your chance Dr Morrison.
Until something is done I will always vote NO for bonds.

Wiley Coyote said...


Sounds too much like Obamacare and we all know how that is working out. If you like your school, you can keep your school. You now have choices.

"We have to pass the bonds so we can see what's in it."

We could call it, Morrisoncation.

Seriously, your plan is pretty much the way public education is headed in order to comepete in the marketplace.

The problem comes with the "getting your kid to school if you don't choose your home school" on your own dime.

With CMS having so many ED students, government will have to pay for their transportation to a school nearest to their home or otherwise. Not sure how much CMS will save.

Interesting that prior to Morrison, CMS scaled back magnet transportation as a cost saving measure and now CMS wants to greatly expand magnet offerings all over the county, with no mention of transportation costs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:57- Thank you for seconding my original point. This clearly is a model that can offer options which families have been asking for for years. Since we all pay our fair share of taxes for these schools we the tax payer should have a choice of how we want to use those dollars. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Wiley, take a look at pg 18 of CMS's plan. The numbers for MIE, Coulwood and Bradley don't follow any logic. And why take Bradley down to 80% capacity??

Anonymous said...

How about moving Elon Park to JA Robinson Middle rather than stuffing them into Community House?

Does CMS know that Charlotte extends past Hwy 51?

Wiley Coyote said...


Why take Coulwood down to 43% in 2016/2017?!?!?!?!?!

Stupidity is the reason why. No other explanation.

Wiley Coyote said...

If there was ever an example of CMS talking out of both sides of their mouth, the Coulwood/MIE proposal is it.


Currently, Coulwood is at 101% capacity w/o mobiles.

MIE is at 109% w/o mobiles.

In 2016/2017, Coulwood will be at 43% capacity w/o mobiles

MIE will be at 138% capacity w/o mobiles.

As I have said before, MIE has had mobiles since the second year it opened and up to 22 mobiles at one point.

These two schools are a mile apart and both will be middle schools, with MIE having NO athletic facilities....

Why in the world would ANYONE vote to approve ANY bond measure today or going forward with this kind of grossly mismanaged asset management?

It's like they just don't give a damn and expect taxpayers to keep ponying up the money.


Anonymous said...

we live 8 houses from Park Rd near Woodlawn in Madison Park. We were fortunate that we were able to get our child into AG Middle due to Title I. Our child walks to school. Next year our child will be in High School. We are zoned for Harding. Myers Park High School in 1 mile from our house!

Anonymous said...

12:57 and Keith,
In a perfect world, I agree with you.

1. After mandated court ordered busing for racial integration was lifted (2003?), CMS experimented with something called "The Choice Plan" which gave families options to attend schools outside of their assigned schools. I chose to send my own children to a school outside of their "home zone" providing my own transportation. In the end, "The Choice Plan" turned out to be a disaster of monumental proportions that I can't possibly go into at length here because the complications and fallout are worthy of a Harvard PhD thesis.

2. CMS already offers families alternative choices. They're called magnet schools. In addition, CMS also offers a few highly successful niche options including CATO Middle College which is housed on a CPCC campus. I think expanding the CATO concept to other CPCC and UNC campuses is a fantastic idea.

3. The day CMS' Student Placement Office implements a consistent student assignment plan, pigs will most certainly fly. The definitions of equal, equitable and fair are open to wide interpretation in the context of CMS' unique history. What's "fair" here, ain't necessarily "fair" there.

I have the same question you do about the expansion of magnets and related transportation costs although this isn't reason enough for me to vote against CMS' bond package. Personally, I think CMS has too many magnet schools. I'm a fan of full magnets but not partial magnets. There are plenty of people who disagree with me on this issue.


Wiley Coyote said...


I notice you didn't mention the Coulwood/MIE examples I have been posting.

That alone is worth burying these bonds.

It points to the heart of terrible facilities management while at the same time CMS is crying they need more space.

I also pointed out that in 2005, CMS projected adding 5,300 students per year over the next 10 years. Based on those projections, CMS should have a little over 160,000 students right now, which is way off base...

CMS ahould get a big, fat F plastered on the downtown building, just like schools getting a letter grade for performance.

Anonymous said...

CMS puts the "facile" in facilities...

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

I'd like to extend a heartfelt shoutout and a liftup to Wiley for sharing his outside the box thinking as a stakeholder in CMS.

Can I get an Amen?

Anonymous said...

If they expand magnet offerings and continue the door to door service most of these schools have now, they will have to add a 5th bell tier. 10:00-5:00 anyone? Magnets must go to all shuttles for all students or non magnet students will pay the price.

Anonymous said...

How about a bit of rezoning in the SW area.
SW Middle sits with over 1500 students while Kennedy sits nearby with about 700.
My classroom size is well over 40. Each class!
Why doesn't anyone pay attention to this inequity?

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks that Charlotte has gotten too big for 1 school district. It used to have 2 a long time ago. City district and County district (which is why you have East Mecklenburg and West Charlotte for example). I don't think that is the route to go (mainly bc there isnt much county outside of the city limits now). I think dividing North and South or East and West could be beneficial. There is just so much disparity from urban schools to suburban schools to rural schools for 1 district to cover all types of students. Most larger cities have multiple districts like Dallas. Even Columbia SC has 2 districts

Wiley Coyote said...


Richland County has two school districts that total less than 50,000 students.

Richland Two has about 26,000 and Richland One has 23,000.

Richland Two exploded in the early seventies with students, as did Lexington County (Irmo) due to forced busing. As a result, many families fled Richland One or sent their kids to several private schools.

Richland Two had one high school in 1970 and had to build Richland Northeast to handle the growth, which opened in 1978. Today Richland Two has 5 high schools, Richland One has 8.

Anonymous said...

@11:30pm-they selectively see what they want. No one cares that Community Middle School has 1600 kids while JA Robinson about 2 miles away has less than 900. Rezone!! Move Elon Park to JA Robinson

For that matter take a look at Providence and AK HS. Do you think anyone cares about kids in the suburbs sitting on the floor? NOPE

Anonymous said...

5:29 Alicia, the Choice Plan should still be considered. CMS will just have to work out the details to implement the program. Aren't there enough employees in the bloated central office who could handle this? It couldn't be more complicated than Obamacare, right? oh wait.....

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

The Choice Plan.

Pull out my teeth without Novocain, stick a fork in my eye, and shoot me first.



Anonymous said...

Board of Education members make sure that their communities and schools of their choice receive preferential treatment in zoning. At the wave of a members wands, schools can be rezoned and doomed or rezoned for success. A change of the student body by rezoning makes the almighty difference in scholastic offerings, sports and the arts.