School district officials are hoping a multimillion dollar bond referendum will ease overcrowding in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
On November 5, 2013 voters will decide if CMS will receive a $290-million bond that Superintendent Heath Morrison says will help expand existing schools, build new schools and add programs.
“Over the last six years, we’ve added around 13,000 students in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools," Morrison said. "As you add new students, you stress certain buildings. We actually have more students in trailers at Albemarle Elementary school than are in the brick and mortar building.”
If passed there will be 17 projects, affecting 29 of the 160 CMS schools.
Albemarle Road Elementary is one school affected by the overcrowding. Officials and parents say the school is over capacity by 590 students who are being housed in trailers.
“Neighborhoods around here aren’t the safest,” said Tina Alexander a parent of a first grade student at the school. “If something bad happens, the trailers are easier to get into than the main school.” Her daughter attends class in a mobile unit.
One of the projects included in the bond r is a new K-12 facility to relieve the overcrowding at Albemarle Road Elementary School.
How will this affect taxpayers?
Mecklenburg County Finance Director, Dena Diorio, said taxes will not go up to pay for the bond. Diorio said the county is paying off more debt than it is taking on. That means the new debt is taking the place of old that was paid off debt.
Some organizations raise concerns about the bond. A group called the South Mecklenburg Alliance for Responsible Taxpayers (SMART) said they will vote “no.”
Their Facebook page is a testament to their decision against the bond.
“We believe that teachers are far more important than brick and mortar,” the group wrote on their Facebook page.
However, Morrison said money for teachers comes from the operating budget which is completely separate from the capital projects budget.
“A lot of people say, ‘if we don’t build these schools could we pay our teachers more,’”” Morrison said. “Our teachers definitely need to be paid more in North Carolina but these bonds cannot be transferred to operating costs. Those are two specific, separate budgets that cannot be commingled.”
For details on the bond project visit A Closer Look at the CMS Bond Request.