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BREAKING: CMS releases final proposed south Charlotte boundary maps
11th and 12th graders to be allowed to stay at their original schools; public can voice their opinions online until May 21 and at a public hearing May 23
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Final draft map changes show that CMS was listening to many parents’ complaints; 11th and 12th graders will be able to stay at current schools
by Cristina Bolling
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools unveiled its last set of draft maps Monday that redraw boundary lines for dozens of south Charlotte elementary, middle and high schools — a proposal that contains some significant changes to previous maps that had been under consideration in recent months and is likely to be the plan voted into action next month.
This new draft plan changes either the boundaries or feeder patterns for 27 CMS schools and is the district’s third proposed map since March. Big boundary changes are necessary as the district prepares to open a new high school near Ballantyne in the fall of 2024 and a middle school in the Rea Farms area in 2025 if voters pass a school bond in November.
The latest plan also contains an important detail that has been the topic of much hand-wringing in recent months: CMS has decided that both 11th and 12th grade students whose neighborhoods are rezoned for new high schools will be allowed to finish out their high school careers at their original high schools. The juniors will have to provide their own transportation or ride a bus from a regular stop that’s within the school attendance area.
The new rules regarding juniors is a break from how CMS typically does things — traditionally, only 12th graders are “grandfathered” and allowed to stay at their original high schools. CMS staff had said that allowing juniors to be grandfathered as well would be logistically complicated, given that the district’s bus system that is already having challenges with staffing.
Decision time for the new boundaries is coming fast, and these are likely to be the maps the CMS school board will decide on next month. CMS officials say they’ll take feedback from the public via an online form through midnight on May 21 and will hold a public hearing on the final plan at the CMS school board meeting May 23. The board is expected to vote on a new boundary plan on June 6.
The changes in this new draft represent many of the concerns and complaints that families had aired over the last few months at public meetings and on online forms. Some families are likely to be pleased that the district seemed to listen to their feedback in the map-drawing process, while other families are likely to be frustrated with the plan.
The district is calling these new maps “the superintendent’s recommendations,” and “final draft,” which signals that CMS staff is fairly confident that this will be the plan that goes to a school board vote.
Here’s a list of the schools affected under the latest plan:
And a look at the new proposed maps:
Here are some highlights from the new set of maps:
Olde Providence Elementary students will split in high school between Providence High and South Mecklenburg High: Olde Providence families were one of the more vocal groups in the redistricting process. Currently, Olde Providence students attend Myers Park High, but the new plan calls for the northern portion of Olde Providence to attend Providence High and the southern portion to attend South Mecklenburg. Some Olde Providence families had advocated for Providence High, saying the distance and commute times would be far smaller from their homes.
The new map also changes high school boundaries for students at Sharon Elementary in the SouthPark area: The latest version calls for students who live south of Fairview Road to attend South Meck instead of Myers Park, although some will continue to attend Alexander Graham Middle. The previous version called for more students in the SouthPark area to attend Myers Park.
In another change from the last draft, the new version retains the existing high school boundaries in the Montclaire and Huntingtowne Farms areas. The previous version had sent more of those students in the South Boulevard corridor to Myers Park.
Socioeconomic diversity changes significantly at some of the high schools under the current plan: The new high school will see more students coming from neighborhoods with higher socioeconomic status, or SES, under the new draft, compared with the previous one. South Mecklenburg High’s socioeconomic diversity had been a concern in Draft 1, when 50% of students were slated to come from neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status; this draft has 38% of South Mecklenburg students coming from low SES neighborhoods. Also:
Myers Park’s low SES status would rise from 19% to 24%
Ardrey Kell’s would double from 1% to 2%
Providence’s would stay below 1%
the new high school would have 22% low SES.
Some significant middle school changes: The middle school draft map has the proposed new middle school pulling students from Ballantyne, Hawk Ridge and Polo Ridge elementaries; a change from the last draft, which had the new middle school drawing students from the new relief elementary school on Ardrey Kell Road along with students from Polo Ridge students and a portion of Rea Farms. Also, the new map has students from Providence Spring Elementary attending Jay M. Robinson; Draft 2 had them attending Crestdale Middle. Elizabeth Lane Elementary students are split as they move into middle school under the new plan, with a portion remaining at South Charlotte Middle and a portion switching to Crestdale Middle.
Myers Park IB plan: The new plan allows some Myers Park High students on track for the International Baccalaureate diploma to have the option to stay at Myers Park.
Tensions have been high for months in many south Charlotte communities over where the new boundary lines will fall. Hundreds of parents packed public feedback meetings hosted by CMS in response to two previous drafts earlier this spring.
There are a lot of competing factors at play as CMS weighs its four priorities: home-to-school distance, socioeconomic diversity, building utilization (how crowded a school is) and keeping feeder patterns intact.
Related Ledger articles:
“5 key hotspots in the new CMS boundary maps” (April 21)
“How CMS changes would alter your school” (🔒, March 29)
“Tense meeting as CMS parents digest boundary proposals” (🔒, March 28)
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Executive editor: Tony Mecia; Managing editor: Cristina Bolling; Staff writer: Lindsey Banks; Contributing editor: Tim Whitmire, CXN Advisory; Contributing photographer/videographer: Kevin Young, The 5 and 2 Project