New CMS Assignment Plan Pairs Elementary Schools

CMS proposed assignment changes include merging populations of more and less affluent schools into K-2 and 3-5 campuses.

Like many Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools parents, I've been anxiously awaiting to see what plan would roll out for the assignment changes to take effect in the 2018-19 school year. Last night, Superintendent Ann Clark unveiled the proposed plan.

Within minutes, the neighborhood Facebook page was rolling with discussion. I happen to be in a neighborhood that is assigned to Cotswold Elementary where my son attends. In the proposed plan, students assigned to Cotswold (a family with a balance of low, middle and high socioeconomic status families) and Billingsville (monstly low SES status families) elementary schools would be merged and the two campuses serving the same students with grades K-2 attending what is now the Billingsville campus and grades 3-5 attending the Cotswold campus. Dilworth and Sedgefield elementaries, and Nathaniel Alexander and Morehead STEM Academy will follow the same pairing model with grades K-2 attending one school campus and grades 3-5 attending the other.

Immediate questions that surfaced with parents discussing the Cotswold/Billingsville match-up:

How's that work with the current magnet programs? 

Good question and one that popped into my head. Cotswold is a full International Baccalaureate (IB) school, and Billingsville was supposed to open a STEM magnet program. In the live Facebook chat with Superintendent Ann Clark today, she stated that Billingsville and Cotswold will be IB programs, which opens more seats to the IB program. Good questions to ask about other schools with proposed changes.

My idea: Choose one magnet and roll with it.

How will bus runs and school schedules match up?

For parents that have two children in elementary school, many are concerned about the different schedules, especially those who have to juggle child care before and after school. And some are simply saddened that their children won't get to attend the same elementary school together.

How about this: Could they possibly run on same schedule, with the youngest getting dropped off first, then older students riding to the next school location?

What about the number of classes in each grade?

With more classes in each age group, will students ever have the same classmates? From what I've calculated based on numbers and some discussion via a PTA email, each grade with the Cotswold/Billingsville combination would add two more classes in each grade.

Here's an idea: Could their be an opportunity for tracking in K-2? That is students stay with each teacher and class through second grade.

So many more questions are out there and looming in parents minds. Overall, I think it's a modest plan. It is mindful of not only overcrowded schools like Cotswold which is beyond max capacity, and neighborhood school zones, as well as an attempt to balance socioeconomic status.

Many more changes are in the proposed plan, including a pocket of students currently assigned to Alexander Graham Middle and Myers Park moving to Carmel Middle and South Mecklenburg High School. 

Keep in mind this is a proposal that must be approved by the school board. In the meanwhile, CMS parents are invited to info sessions May 1-23. Look for more details to come on where and when those sessions will take place. There was also a live chat on the CMS Facebook page this morning with Superintendent Ann Clark. Scroll comments for the Q&A.

In the meanwhile, would love to hear your thoughts on the proposed plan. Do you agree or disagree with the proposed changes?