Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) School Superintendent Ann Clark, hoping county commissioners agree to place an $805 million bond request on the November ballot, says the district's needs are too urgent to be put off.
Clark, in an opinion column in The Charlotte Post, says that delaying a bond referendum until 2017, as some Mecklenburg County commissioners prefer, would be detrimental to the district's 146,000 students.
"We have pressing needs, many of them the result of maintenance too long deferred because of limited capital funds," Clark says. "I believe that our needs are too urgent to wait an extra year."
Crowding at many schools means that the district is using 1,100 mobile classrooms, and that some students have to eat lunch before 11 a.m. Charlotte-Mecklenburg has 75 schools that are more than 40 years old, including 11 high schools that were built before 1970.
The school districts needs the county commission's approval to place a bond referendum on the election ballot.
The proposed bond issue would provide funds to build 10 new schools, including two high schools. The money also would enable the district to replace four existing schools and renovate or add on to 14 more, Clark says. Although the request is large, the superintendent notes that it would cover only a little more than a third of Charlotte-Mecklenburg's $2 billion in facility needs.
"I hope that our community and our commissioners will remember that the bond request isn’t about politics," Clark says. "It’s about educating children. To help every child learn and grow, we need enough classrooms, enough seats, enough science labs and playgrounds and gymnasiums."