Monday, January 6, 2014

Big menu, little info for school shoppers

The new year ushers in a time of unprecedented school choice in the Charlotte area.  And unfortunately for families trying to sort it all out,  school data is harder than usual to find.

Twenty-six of North Carolina's 127 charter schools are in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, and this week the state Board of Education is poised to approve 11 more to open in August. That includes four near the Meck/Cabarrus line that plan to draw students from both counties.

The nonprofit MeckEd has provided a boost for families interested in charters, with an updated report on local charters.

2012 magnet fair

CMS kicks off its month-long magnet application period Saturday with a school options fair from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology,  1430 Alleghany St. A dozen new magnets and other programs for 2014-15 will be among the options showcased.

And new N.C. Opportunity Scholarships will help low-income families pay for private school in 2014-15.  Applications will be taken starting Feb. 1 for $4,800 vouchers.

It's the time of year when families traditionally scour data on academic performance, demographics and other measures of school performance,  trying to figure out the best option for their kids in the coming year. But a confluence of new state tests and problems with the new PowerSchool data system have made that unusually difficult.

Halfway through the school year,  CMS has yet to release any enrollment numbers or demographics for individual schools, or to post  long-promised school data reports.   N.C. school report cards,  usually a great source of information, haven't been updated to reflect 2012-13 data.

I've got 2013 proficiency results for CMS and Mecklenburg charters in the School Data maps at the right of this post,  but families tend to want a lot more.  I'm expecting state and local resources to be updated this month,  and as fresh information arrives I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile,  I'd love to hear from those of you who are exploring your choices.  With so many new and untested options,  how are you checking them out?  What kind of questions do you have about the rapidly-changing school choice scene,   and what tips do you have for fellow seekers?


Anonymous said...

Ann, With less than a 5k credit for relatively low income earners my guess is very few will go private if any. If they open that up to "all wage earners/tax payers" now we are talking about a real program changer. I certainly would consider going private with a credit even for 30% of the cost for private schools. Keith W. Hurley

For what it is worth said...

Ms. Kakadelis, formerly of CMS BOE has been managing a similar scholarship program for many years with always more applications than funds. You will find this offer from the state quickly snatched up.

Wiley Coyote said...

Every parent of the 145,000 kids in CMS should go to this education shopfest and sign their children up for magnets or charters that would enhance their talents/abilities or get them out of an unperforming home schools.

It's time for ALL parents to have choices for their kid's education and future regardless of where they live.

This will require more offerings of popular magnets and other programs.

It will also require CMS to get off the transportation horsehocky and send kids where they need to go.

Anonymous said...

"Problems with PowerSchool"

Boy you almost addressed the issues I have posted for you to address.It is ashame that your reporting is months behind.

CMS charges Chinese students almost $10,000 to go to our public schools. Any comments on this?

Anonymous said...

CMS has more options then I have ever seen. I like it but parents should pay for transportation or just give your kid a ride..

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have always wondered why there is no fee for the transportation services within CMS. $180/year sounds like a good place to start. What a bargain at $1 per day for bus service.

We moved here from CA. We live right around the corner from our ES, yet a bus pulls right up in front of our house to pick up our kids. Very surprising for such a large school district to be practically providing door-to-door service. Neighborhoods near schools should start walking groups or carpool groups.

Sammy said...

If more parents knew what was going on, and not going on, in CMS class rooms, Charter schools would all have wait lists.

Daddy daycare said...

Wonder what time the Charter high schools will start? I don't imagine a school administrator would choose 7:15am as a beneficial, sensible, healthy start time for teenaged students.

Anonymous said...

Many of the local private schools, like Charlotte Christian, Covenant Day School and Charlotte Catholic offer need based scholarships. So, for families that think these schools are out of their financial league, think again and check them out.

Wiley Coyote said...


Traditional transporation is outdated.

Any CMS school that receives one penny of tax dollars should provide transportation for ALL kids.

Charters and private school students SHOULD provide their own transportation.

More and more specific courses of study will be implemented in public schools in the coming years so they may as well address transportation for all kids now.

I revised this comment as I meant to say "charters and private schools should provide their own transportation" - not magnets.

Shamash said...

OK, Anon January 6, 2014 at 4:18 PM, I'll bite.

Why does CMS charge Chinese students nearly $10,000 for school?

I've never heard of this and I know a few Chinese in town.

I'm surprised to hear this since I don't think they charge illegal immigrants anything extra.

Not sure why the Chinese would be special, except that they probably have the money.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:54 - I have spoken with folks at Country Day School. They have not had a "applicant ask for" the state funded voucher yet. I highly doubt the voucher comes into play at private schools. That was my point and what Ms. K provides is completely different from a state funded voucher with my tax money (and I hope yours). Keith W. Hurley

For what it is worth said...

Keith, look up Children's Scholarship Fund of Charlotte and you will be surprised. However, you are probably right that none apply to Charlotte Country Day. I will bet it would be more like Victory Christian and such schools more in the west and southwest parts of Charlotte. But I would also bet that since there is a ceiling on the scholarship amounts, the family would have to come up with much more money for tuition at Charlotte Country Day versus many of the other private schools. But many families do pitch in more money. And of course many more private schools are promoting their "diversity" labels and offering need based scholarships also.

As a matter of fact, there are 97 or so scholarship type programs for various types of residents like Children's Scholarship Fund under the umbrella of the Foundation of the Carolinas.