Parents Upset About Plan to Cut Number of Classrooms at New High Schools

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – CMS leaders are defending plans to cut the number of classrooms in three new high schools.

Parents accuse the district of breaking its promise to voters who passed the 2017 bond.

“You see it’s a process they do before, called bait and switch,” says West Charlotte High School Alumni Frederick Smith.

Smith and other West Charlotte parents and alumni expressed frustration during a CMS capital needs townhall on Monday night.

“They baited us to vote for the bond to pass, now they switched up on us, well there’s not enough money,” Smith says.

The 2017 bond promised three new high schools in CMS, with 125 classrooms each, including at a new West Charlotte High.

Now that’s been reduced to 100 classrooms.

District leaders say material and labor costs have increased.

And at Monday night’s meeting, they also tried to make the case that 125 classrooms would be too many.

But alumni like Smith argue it’s not fair.

“We endured this, back over the years. West Charlotte has always been denied what we needed or wanted,” Smith says.

Board Chair Elyse Dashew sent a letter to County Commissioners asking for more money to complete the bond project saying in part, “…we will need to receive additional funds, or we will be forced to make significant modifications to the projects that all of us have promised the community.”

Some parents are critical.

“They are failing our students, especially the students of color. Why are we going to give you more money to throw down a money pit?” asks parent Colette Forrest.

Her son will eventually go to the new West Charlotte High School.

“It is offensive! I am a single parent, I have one sole income that I have to make everything work, with every dollar that I get. Why shouldn’t the CMS school board be held to the same standards?” she asks.

The new West Charlotte High School is scheduled to open in August 2022.

The other new high schools are planned for South and Southwest Charlotte.

The district says they’re building schools to last 90 years with renovations every 30 years.