Custom Search

Friday, November 19, 2010

Charlotte Schools Reverse Discrimination Dilemma: White Students Neglected

CMS vs. The Suburbs

Twelve years ago, the school board declared war on the suburbs. That war would eventually break the county financially, destabilize the school system and launch middle-class flight.

Last Tuesday, the chickens finally came home to roost. At a school board meeting that at times threatened to turn violent, Minority parents accused school board members of Racism. The board closed or reconfigured a long list of schools with heavy minority and poor populations to save money. Understandably, outraged protestors believed this to be an assault on poor minorities, given that whiter, more suburban schools were left untouched.

They're right in their instinct that their children will pay the price for the fiasco school leaders created over the last decade, but not for the reasons they think.

Rewind to 1997, when white suburban parents sued to end busing for racial integration. The school system fought them bitterly in court, but lost. In retribution, the school board's majority and Superintendent Eric Smith decided to starve the then-booming suburbs of school-building dollars. The formula used to calculate where schools should be built was jiggered to show negative growth in the suburbs during a time when the county regularly ranked among America's top 10 fastest-growing places due largely to suburban growth.

Suburban schools were allowed to burst at the seams while the school system went on a billion-dollar building spree, throwing up schools in low-income areas where the bulk of the county's growing population didn't actually live. This was by design. The courts had blocked the school system from busing kids by race to achieve school diversity. They would use space to achieve it instead.

Eventually, school leaders believed, suburban schools would overflow and occupancy would violate fire codes. Suburban, mostly white children would be forced into the half-filled urban schools. Diversity could still be achieved through spite.

Waddell High School, the focus of much of the crowd's anger Tuesday night, was a classic spite school. In a contentious 5-4 vote, the school board decided to bypass desperately overcrowded suburban areas and locate Waddell just a few miles from struggling Olympic High School in a lower population west side area.

Waddell was state of the art, with science labs and a media center that most school districts would envy. Yet it opened half full in 2001 and struggled to attract students while bursting suburban schools were forced to hold classes in their gyms. Waddell was closed Tuesday as a high school and will be replaced with a magnet school.

Between 2001 and 2004, 17 new schools were built. Of those, just four were in booming suburban areas of the county. Dozens more urban schools were renovated from top to bottom. Some of this made sense. Because of the lawsuit, minority kids would be returning to neighborhood schools that were decrepit and needed to be renovated.

But the school board took its construction orgy to levels so outrageous that classes in new urban schools were half full with ratios of 15 kids to a teacher. The school board blew a billion dollars on school construction, doubling the county's debt load while the population only grew by 28 percent. By 2010, Wake County had 6,000 more students than Mecklenburg did, but 17 fewer schools.

In the process, the school board made a terrible miscalculation. It wrongly assumed that suburbanites would put their kids on buses to half-empty urban schools once suburban ones burst at the seams. Instead, parents began to bypass absurdly overcrowded schools here and moved to Union and York counties.

The board alienated an entire generation of suburban parents who could have diversified our schools, the vast majority of whom had nothing to do with the busing lawsuit. While thousands of new children a year showed up to school in neighboring counties, our schools bled middle-income white kids. In 1998, our schools were 58-percent white. Today they are 33 percent; the schools built to hold them remain partially full.

Worse yet, the county is now struggling to operate its schools and libraries while paying down its enormous school construction debt. On Tuesday, the school board took the first step in cleaning up this mess, closing down and consolidating schools so that they can get back to the business of educating kids.

Amid Racial Discrimination Questions, N.C. State Report Confirms CMS Progress For Minority Students

Even as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools faces complaints of racism over school closing plans, a recent state report confirms that CMS's Poor and Minority students are doing better Academically than most around the state.

For instance, CMS black and Hispanic students in grades 3-8 were more likely to pass reading and math exams than the same groups statewide and in Wake and Guilford counties, N.C. school report cards for 2010 show.

CMS's black, Hispanic and low-income students were more successful on high-school exams but less likely to graduate.

The report cards package information that has already been reported in different formats, and confirm trends that have been emerging for the last few years. But the easy comparison of schools and districts often provides the clearest gauge of accomplishment.

And the question is timely in Charlotte. People angered by the board's recent decision to close 10 schools serving mostly African American and impoverished students have accused officials of Racism and filed complaints alleging civil-rights violations.

Board Chair Eric Davis, Superintendent Peter Gorman and others have argued that they're closing buildings to protect academic gains in a shrinking budget. CMS has spent millions putting extra teachers, technology and other aid into schools serving the neediest students, most of whom are black, Hispanic and impoverished.

The report cards provide detailed data on academics, safety, discipline and faculty, broken out by school and district. They illustrate CMS's progress with minority and low-income students, even though those groups continue to trail white and non-poor students by large margins.

In the last couple of years, districts across North Carolina have seen more disadvantaged students pass exams, partly because the state now requires students who fail the first time to take the test again.

Gorman has complained that retesting inflates pass rates and provides false hope to some students and families. But because all N.C. districts are playing by the same rules, district-to-district comparisons give perspective on the gains.

Just a few years ago, such comparisons were embarrassing for CMS. Minority and low-income students trailed state averages on most measures, especially in high schools. Wake outperformed CMS by large margins.

But in recent years, CMS has surpassed Wake and the state on many measures, especially for disadvantaged students. White and nonpoor students in both districts do extremely well, with pass rates of 85 percent or higher.

CMS's edge is most pronounced on the high-school exams. But the low graduation rate counters that advantage; pass rates could be rising because weak students are dropping out, rather than staying and flunking tests.

Wake's overall proficiency rates remain above CMS's because Wake has fewer poor and minority students. Last year about a third of Wake students qualified for lunch subsidies, used to gauge school poverty, while just over half of CMS's did.

Claims Of Racial Bias Rattle Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

As national experts laud Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' success with low-income and black students, some local families are taking to the streets, accusing officials of shortchanging those very children.

A proposal to close eight urban schools, where less than 10 percent of the total enrollment is white, has state and local NAACP leaders accusing CMS of racism while crowds stand and cheer.

School change is always tumultuous. But people are startled by recent arrests, protests and strident rhetoric in a city known for polite discourse and reticence about race.

"I don't know how widespread it is, but the people who are angry about it are extremely angry," said county commissioners' Chair Jennifer Roberts, who attended a recent NAACP meeting where leaders urged about 200 people to fight school-closing plans, going to jail if necessary.

Tasha Houston, a housekeeper, says she'd never marched for anything until she showed up for a public forum about closing J.T. Williams Middle, where she has a child. Her sense that school officials are mistreating African-American and low-income families led her to the street.

"It's like a volcano is erupting," Houston said, "and we have to deal with it."

Hundreds of parents, including many from the suburbs and affluent in-town neighborhoods, have protested recent changes in boundaries and magnet programs.

But talk of closings takes anxiety to a new level. Superintendent Peter Gorman has suggested closing eight of CMS's 176 schools. They're home to about 4,000 students, mostly black, Hispanic and low-income. The schools were tagged, he says, because they have empty classrooms and/or academic failings. And with budget cuts looming, he says, it's better to sacrifice buildings than teachers.

"We didn't target any one group," Gorman said last week. "What we're doing is targeting problems, and our problem is the financial challenge."

Historic echoes

But to some, it's the latest twist in a cycle of discrimination that dates back to Jim Crow schools, continued with urban renewal projects that razed black neighborhoods, and gathered new force when courts dismantled CMS's desegregation plan about 10 years ago.

That history makes skepticism understandable, says Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a West Charlotte High alum. He says CMS leaders bear the burden of persuading a wary community that proposed changes will help their children succeed.

Tension spiked at an Oct. 12 forum on westside and central schools, when the board cut off public comments from an overflow crowd. The board plans to hold a makeup session for 19 speakers on Tuesday, but some say the damage is done.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, came to Charlotte last week to help plan follow-up action. He says Charlotte's national prominence and historic position as a leader in the quest for desegregation makes it the ideal place for a long-term fight against neighborhood schools isolated by race and income.

"Resegregation of schools is the enemy of educational excellence," he said Friday.

Fiery rhetoric

When the Rev. Kojo Nantambu was elected president of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's NAACP branch last fall, he promised to shake up a dormant civil-rights community.

For months, he spoke at school board meetings, denouncing Gorman and the board as racists who encourage school resegregation. Aside from a handful of fellow activists, he got little attention.

Then the school-closing plan landed, bringing out people like Houston, who says she's normally too busy working to attend meetings. Now Nantambu is getting standing ovations from dozens eager to join his fight.

Nantambu was arrested after the Oct. 12 forum, charged with disturbing the peace when he led the crowd in chants of "We want more time!"

His rhetoric in follow-up meetings has been fiery: Resegregation is evil, and CMS is perpetuating "spiritual and mental torture" of children. At an NAACP meeting on Monday, he pinned the blame squarely on Gorman, along with unspecified people controlling him: "They do not want black children and white children to go to school together. They do not want rich children and poor children to go to school together." Nantambu has not returned repeated calls from the Observer after his arrest.

Hero or Villain?

When Gorman was hired from California in 2006, he succeeded the district's first black superintendent, James Pughsley. He took over a system that had recently switched, after a long court battle, from race-based assignment to a mix of neighborhood schools and magnets.

And he was hired by a board that had seen the number and influence of black members decline as white and suburban voters mobilized around school issues. To many community and business leaders, Gorman was a refreshing face of reform. He has emerged as one of the nation's high-profile superintendents; on Monday, the Broad Foundation honored CMS as one of the country's five best urban districts. But to some in Charlotte, he symbolizes white political control of a system where about two-thirds of students are black or Hispanic.

County Commissioner Vilma Leake, who says she "reluctantly" voted to hire Gorman when she was on the school board, agrees with much of what Nantambu says about CMS. She blames Gorman for laying off hundreds of employees - including bus drivers, teacher assistants, maintenance workers and other positions dominated by African Americans - and populating his upper echelon with white administrators.

A current list of Gorman's 14-person executive staff includes three African Americans, one of whom, legal counsel George Battle, was hired by the board, rather than Gorman.

Last year's school board election brought in a new majority. Richard McElrath and Joyce Waddell, elected last November, are now the only African Americans on the nine-person board.

McElrath and Waddell attended Monday's NAACP meeting, standing and applauding for some of Nantambu's and Barber's comments. But even though they disagree with parts of Gorman's plan, both say he's not the villain.

McElrath praises Gorman for speaking up about the way housing patterns shape racial and economic isolation of schools. And Waddell notes that the board employs Gorman, so bad decisions rest on them.

Vice Chair Tom Tate, who is white and represents a district with many urban schools, agrees. He has questioned whether Gorman's plan is fair to disadvantaged kids, but "I do not think that there is anything that is motivated by racism of any sort."

CMS asks for Trust

Board Chair Eric Davis, one of the members elected last fall, touted the student-assignment review that led to the closing plan as a new era in citizen participation. Starting in July, board members and staff have spent dozens of hours in meetings with parents, educators and others interested in schools.

The process gets mixed reviews. Supporters applaud the time spent listening and Davis's willingness to respond quickly to flaws in the system. Skeptics say they can't keep up with rapidly changing proposals and crucial meetings held during work hours, and complain that CMS staff filters public comments.

Officials unveiled plans for closings and other major changes before they had estimates on savings or details on how the changes would work. They said they wanted to hear public views before delving into details - essentially asking the public to trust CMS to work out the plans before school opens in 2011-12.

No way, many parents, volunteers and educators say. They've chided CMS for trying to launch complex efforts, such as converting elementary schools to accommodate pre-kindergarten to eighth grade or launching year-round school, on a speeded-up timetable and shoestring budget.

Earlier this month, the board voted to pull some popular magnets and suburban neighborhood schools off Gorman's list for closing or other change. That fueled suspicion that inner-city schools are getting short shrift.

As Houston, the J.T. Williams parent, put it: "They're not targeting the schools that have these giant PTAs. They're targeting our children because we are who we are."

Key meeting dates

Decisions about 2011-12 school closings will take shape on Tuesday, when Gorman's staff presents final recommendations, and Nov. 9, when the board votes.

Both meetings are likely to be packed. Parent groups are planning candlelight vigils and other strategies.

Bud Cesena, chief of CMS police, says he hopes to avoid making more arrests. If chants or disruption arise, he says, his force will get the school board into a back room, leaving the meeting chamber to protestors and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

Foxx says he has been on the phone with board members and other leaders, trying to figure out how to bring the community together in two weeks. "There's some important dialog that's got to take place between now and then," he said .

But tension isn't likely to end Nov. 9. One scenario: Some version of the current plan could be approved on a split vote, with the board's two black members on the losing end.

The question then becomes: What next?

Barber says the state NAACP and allied groups are in it for the long haul. He said he plans to bring civil-rights lawyers to Charlotte for a panel talk about legal options.

In Raleigh, Barber has led school-board sit-ins to protest school resegregation. Some wonder whether Charlotte will see similar scenes.

"This could be as fragile as Wake County, just because everybody's nervous or on edge," said Kathy Ridge, executive director of Mecklenburg Citizens for Public Education, or MeckEd. "I hope it's not a tinderbox getting ready to blow."

Malachi Greene, a former Charlotte City Council member who is African American, sees other options.

"It's another one of those community problems that we've got to roll up our sleeves and do the Charlotte way: Work it out without tearing Charlotte apart," he said. "We've got to get through this without hurting what we all love, and that's our children and our community."

Complaints Filed: CMS Violated Civil Rights

The U.S. Education Department is reviewing five civil-rights complaints alleging that Charlotte-Mecklenburg's school closings and other assignment changes discriminate against black and Hispanic students.

The department, which does not reveal who files complaints, expects to decide within a couple of weeks whether the complaints merit an investigation.

In a worst-case scenario, a finding that CMS violated federal civil rights laws could block federal money or lead to a Justice Department probe. However, the Education Department tries to negotiate a resolution without resorting to those steps, according to its Web site.

Education Department spokesman Jim Bradshaw said the first complaint was filed Oct. 29, before last week's vote to close 10 schools and change programs and/or assignments at about two dozen others. Four more were filed after the vote, he said Wednesday.

Most students affected by closings and major changes are black or Hispanic and from low-income homes, prompting some to accuse Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools of racism or class discrimination. Feelings ran high: About a dozen people protested outside Superintendent Peter Gorman's house the weekend before the vote, and board members Eric Davis and Kaye McGarry received death-threat letters afterward.

Gorman and Davis, the board's chair, have repeatedly said closings and school mergers were based on empty classrooms and/or academic weakness. They note that CMS spends millions providing extra teachers, supplies and other aid to high-poverty schools serving mostly minority students, and say sacrificing buildings could help protect such aid in the face of huge projected budget cuts.

"Most of the schools we closed are in the African American community. That's factually accurate," Davis said the day after the vote. "We didn't close them because they're in the African American community."

Parents at Waddell High, which will close next school year, held a news conference the day after the vote urging parents to file complaints with the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights.

"We all need to do this together," parent DeAndra Alex said. "We need to do this proactively, and we need to do this forcefully."

The Observer has filed a request for the complaints and any other related documents. The Office of Civil Rights deletes "personally identifiable information" from any information provided, Bradshaw said.

NAACP Leader Claims "Pat McCrory Is Racist"

The President of Charlotte's NAACP chapter has called former mayor Pat McCrory "Racist" in a televised interview, after McCrory said comments by Kojo Nantambu might incite violence.

The two men's comments are the latest chapter in an ongoing dispute triggered by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' decision to cut costs by closing a number of schools, mostly in African American and Latino communities.

In recent days, two CMS board members reportedly received threatening letters, tied to their votes to close the schools.

During interviews with at least two Charlotte media outlets Monday, McCrory said Nantambu's protest chant during last week's school board meeting could lead to violence.

After the school board voted 5-4 to approve a cost-cutting plan that included the school closings, Nantambu began leading a chant, "No justice, no peace!"

McCrory told WBTV, "This should be a man of peace who's encouraging respectful dialogue, even during disagreements -- as opposed to a mean tone and very violent words."

Nantambu, also in a WBTV interview, countered that his chant was not intended to trigger violence. "In a society or community anywhere, if there is not justice, there's not going to be peace," he said. "But it doesn't mean there's going to be violence."

Then Nantambu criticized McCrory, saying, "That's the way he perceives it. That's because he has a very distorted view of reality in himself. And because he's a racist himself."

When asked by WBTV reporter Brigida Mack if he were calling McCrory racist, Nantambu responded, "Yeah, he's a racist."

McCrory later said Nantambu "sbould be ashamed of saying that."

Nantambu said during the weekend that the NAACP had no involvement in the threatening letters received by board chairman Eric Davis and board member Kaye McGarry.

Police Investigate Threats Against School Board Members

Emotions bubbled to the surface during last week's CMS school board vote, prompting someone to put their feelings down on paper.

"In the letter it's clear and obvious they are being targeted because of the way they voted on the school issue," said Milton Harris with CMPD's Criminal Intelligence Unit.

On Friday, board member Kaye McGarry received a threatening letter. On Saturday CMS board chairman Eric Davis received one as well.

"Basically the contents of the letter would give the average person concern for their personal safety," said Harris.

Both Davis and McGarry were outspoken proponents of closing E.E. Waddell High.

"I feel that as chairman, Davis said we need to make a decision tonight," Kaye McGarry said last Tuesday night at that controversial meeting.

NewsChannel 36 contacted McGarry on the phone Monday, but she would not talk about the threat.

She did say whoever wrote it referenced Waddell in the letter.

"We have it in the lab. We're looking at the forensics. Any forensics that may apply to documents we're applying that to these documents," said Harris.

Police are taking the situation seriously given that whoever made the threat took the time to learn where the board members live.

"We don’t know who wrote the letters. We don’t know their mental status," said Harris.

Davis contacted NewsChannel 36 late Monday afternoon. He, too, declined to discuss the threat.

When asked if he was worried about it he said, "No."

Police think the same person wrote both letters, and they are confident they will learn who that person is and why they made the threats.

Waddell Students Protest Decision To Close School

Hundreds of students at E.E. Waddell High School held hands and stood outside the school Wednesday morning, refusing to go inside as a silent protest to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' decision to close the school.

In a Tuesday night meeting marked by split votes, angry protests and accusations of racism, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board approved a sweeping plan to close 10 schools and make other dramatic changes.

In the most controversial item, the board voted 5-4 to close Waddell High and make it the new home for Smith Language Academy, a K-8 magnet. Harding High, which had also been considered as a home for Smith, will turn into a neighborhood school housing many of Waddell's students, along with the International Baccalaureate magnet now at Harding.

Most other efforts to block or revise the plan failed, often with the board's only two black members on the losing end of votes.

"That's a racist vote," speaker John White told the board after the seven white members rejected a move by Joyce Waddell and Richard McElrath to delay a vote on all proposed changes.

Race was a common theme as more than 100 people made one last attempt to sway the board on its historic decision.

The votes change life for about 25,000 students next year. It is the first time the district, which has long grappled with the challenges of growth, has faced massive closings and reassignments because of a shrinking budget.

Most speakers were critical of the plans crafted by Superintendent Peter Gorman and hashed out after five months of board meetings and public forums. Many noted that closings and other major changes would land disproportionately on schools serving minority and low-income students.

Only about 5 percent of students in the schools slated to close are white, compared with a third district-wide.

"Everyone should share the pain, including our suburban families and communities," said Adrian DeVore.

"You are about to wake a sleeping giant called the civil rights movement," said Darrell Bonapart.

Gorman, board Chair Eric Davis and other members say the changes are based on low enrollment and/or academic weakness, not on race or clout. And they say it's just the start of a quest to cut up to $100 million from next year's $1 billion budget.

Before public comments began, Waddell and McElrath argued for pulling the vote off the agenda. Waddell said by waiting until February, officials could craft a fairer plan.

Other members said they needed to vote now to be ready for the 2011 magnet lottery.

After the motion was voted down, a handful of activists began chanting "No justice, no peace." CMS and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police led them from the meeting chamber.

A gray-haired woman collapsed into the space between rows of seats. The board watched quietly as officers worked to get her to her feet.

"You knocked her down?" someone called.

"No," others said.

Another woman, whom police later identified as Niksa Karina Balbosa, 39, was led away in handcuffs. "They are voting to destroy our children," she shouted. "We won't stop until we're heard."

She was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing, CMS Police Chief Bud Cesena said.

Charlotte NAACP President Kojo Nantambu arrived 15 minutes after the meeting began and tried to get into the meeting chamber, but was turned away. He led a group of roughly 30 people, some with signs, who began chanting in the lobby, calling on the school board to push back the vote.

Even after the board voted to keep the closings plan on the agenda, many speakers urged members to start over. Sarah Stevenson, a former school board member, was among them.

"You have a golden opportunity to be fair and equitable to minority children and minority communities," Stevenson said. "You'd be the first board of education to do that in the 60-something years that I've been active in politics in this community."

The local League of Women Voters also called for a do-over, saying the current plan creates too much disruption and distrust for a relatively small savings.

"This is not the time to be penny wise and pound foolish," said co-president Janet Brinkley.

But some speakers from Smith Language Academy, which now moves to Waddell, urged members to vote.

"It's not fair to the students and the parents to delay the process any further," one said.

Joyce Waddell also made a motion to scrap a plan to close three high-poverty, mostly minority middle schools and move the students into new pre-K-8 schools. She said Gorman hasn't shown that students will benefit from the move. Her motion lost on a 5-4 vote.

Five and a half hours into the meetings, feelings were running high. Audience members shouted at board member Joe White as he spoke from the dais. He snapped back that he hadn't interrupted them when they spoke.

"No wonder we have kids who don't know how to behave," White said. He quickly added that some of the best and most civil speakers earlier in the meeting were students.

Kojo Nantambu & Some Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Members Contribute To NAACP Legal Fund

On the eve of the controversial vote on closing and consolidating Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, CMS board members Joyce Waddell and Richard McElrath made small contributions to the NAACP's legal research fund.

Both McElrath and Waddell put cash in a bucket passed around at the end of an NAACP meeting Monday night.

Chapter president Rev. Kojo Nantambu called the meeting to encourage the African-American community to come out to fight the school district's cost-cutting proposal. Nantambu asked members to put money into buckets he called "a legal defense fund."

Asked later about the purpose of the funds, he said they are for "legal research," including both looking for more equitable solutions to the cash crunch and exploring the possibility of legal action against CMS.

Waddell has said she has concerns about the impact on poor and minority students, reiterating Monday night, "Look at it, and you can see for yourself. Minority students are the ones taking the largest burden of what's out there."

When asked about the donation, "I do not support suing CMS," Waddell said. "That money is for research."

McElrath did not return several phones calls about the donation.

A CMS spokesperson could not comment late Monday on ethics rules regarding donations and conflicts of interest. She promised more information Tuesday.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board Votes To Close E.E. Waddell High School & Other Segregated, Failing Schools

Tuesday night the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board voted to shut down 10 schools, expand other schools, and change boundaries.

In the most controversial vote of the night, the board voted 5-4 to shut down Waddell High school and give its building to Smith Language Academy.

That vote also means that Harding High will lose its math and science magnet program to Phillip O. Berry High, and Harding will become a partial neighborhood school instead of a full magnet school. Harding will keep its IB program.

Both Harding and Waddell parents expressed disappointment after the vote.

The four members who voted not to shut down Waddell and make the change to Harding were Tom Tate, Joyce Waddell, Richard McElrath, and Trent Merchant. Board chair Eric Davis, Joe White, Kaye McGarry, Rhonda Lennon, and Tim Morgan voted yes.

The school board also voted to make a host of other changes which are listed at the bottom of this article.

Not long after it began, the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board meeting was disrupted Tuesday night when a group of people started chanting from inside the board chambers.

Several folks began chanting, "No justice, no peace," and were led out of the room by police officers from Charlotte-Mecklenburg police.

At least two people were arrested during the meeting, including CMS parent Niksa Balbosa. She shouted, "There is a bigger plan than public knows! Fight for your children! Fight!" as she was being taken, in handcuffs, into the elevator at the Board of Education.

Police tell us that Balbosa will be charged with disorderly conduct and she was being taken to the Mecklenburg County jail. NAACP members told WBTV's Dedrick Russell that they were planning to bail Balbosa out.

The meeting interrupting lasted for several minutes. When police escorted some of the chanters outside, the chants continued in the hall.

In the lobby, NAACP President Kojo Nantambu lead a group of protests in chanting, "Push Back the Date!" referring to their demand that the board not vote on a host of controversial measures Tuesday night.

A woman fell during the chanting and an ambulance was called to check out her injuries which appeared to be minor. Its not clear how she fell.

There are 25 measures the board is scheduled to consider, which include school closures and other big changes. A crowd of close to 500 showed up, including many who had to watch in the government center lobby and two overflow rooms.

Before the disruption, board member Joyce Waddell had tried to get the board to delay voting on all the measures.

"I am asking that this be delayed until the February meeting," Waddell said.

But Waddell's motion was shot down 7-2, with only board member Richard McElrath joining Waddell.

Here are the changes the board voted to make:

These are the schools that, except for one, will be closed by next school year:

* Irwin Avenue Elementary (students would be sent to Dilworth or Ashley Park elementaries; IB Primary Years magnet program at Irwin goes away; the board originally planned to turn Irwin into CMS offices, but instead decided Tuesday night that the Villa Heights Learning Immersion/Talent Development program would move into the Irwin facility)
* Lincoln Heights Elementary (Lincoln Heights students will go to Bruns Avenue Elementary)
* Oakhurst Elementary (students will be sent to either Rama Road or Billingsville elementaries; Paideia magnet program at Oakhurst will close)
* Pawtuckett Elementary School (Pawtuckett students will go to Whitewater Academy)
* Davidson IB Middle (the IB program will be relocated to Alexander Middle)
* John Taylor Williams Middle
* Bishop Spaugh Community Academy (Middle School)
* Wilson Middle School
* Waddell High School (Smith Language Academy will move into Waddell's building and take the Waddell name)
* Amay James Pre-Kindergarten (closing a pre-K does not require a board vote, so this closure was not voted on Tuesday night)
* University Park Elementary (it will not shut down until the 2012-2013 school year; at that time its creative arts magnet will be combined with First Ward Elementary's creative arts magnet)

Here are some other changes the CMS board approved Tuesday night that will start next school year:


* Community House Middle students who live north of 485 will now go to South Charlotte Middle
* Some Garinger High students will go to Cochrane Middle, which will eventually become a 6-12th grade school by 2014; Cochrane will not have sports but students will be allowed to play for Garinger
* Some Nathaniel Alexander and Hornets Nest elementary students will now go to Winding Springs Elementary, which without its magnet will now become a neighborhood school
* Students at Tuckaseegee Elementary School will go on to Whitewater Middle School
* Students at Barringer Elementary will go on to Sedgefield Middle School
* Students living in the Dilworth and Eastover elementary zones who formerly went to Bishop Spaugh Middle will now go to Alexander Graham Middle


# Create a learning immersion/talent development partial magnet at Mallard Creek Elementary
# Create a Primary Years International Baccalaureate (PYIB) partial magnet program at Blythe Elementary School


# Harding High's math and science magnet program will move to Phillip O. Berry High; Harding will keep its IB program and no longer be a full magnet school -- some kids will be assigned to it as a neighborhood school


* Berryhill Elementary
* Reid Park Elementary
* Druid Hills Elementary
* Byers Elementary
* Ashley Park Elementary
* Bruns Avenue Elementary
* Thomasboro Elementary
* Westerly Hills Elementary

View Larger Map

Sources: Creative Loafing, McClatchy Newspapers, WBTV, WCNC, Zimbio, Youtube, Google Maps

No comments: