Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has released three new draft maps that are currently the district’s top contenders as it plans how it will shift school boundaries for a new high school scheduled to open in south Charlotte in the fall of 2024.
Families with students zoned for Ardrey Kell, Myers Park, South Mecklenburg and Providence high schools have been watching the developing boundary talks with intense interest, packing meetings in school libraries as CMS officials have worked to get parent feedback. The district has stressed that its plans are only drafts and that no final decisions have been made. The school board is scheduled to vote on the plans in February.
CMS officials sent the maps to a parent advisory group late Tuesday night, calling them “Red A,” “Brown A” and “Brown C,” and The Ledger obtained them early Wednesday.
They are contained on a slide presentation that also includes information about what projected enrollment would be at each of the high schools under the different scenarios and data about the projected socioeconomic breakdowns of the schools and how far students would have to travel on average to get there.
Shrinking big high schools: Ardrey Kell, Myers Park and South Meck are CMS’ three largest high schools, and in all three of the CMS scenarios, Ardrey Kell would experience the most relief, dropping to between 2,300 and 2,600 students, down from current enrollment of about 3,500. Enrollment at Myers Park (now 3,600) and South Meck (now 3,400) would drop by between 400 and 600 students, according to CMS enrollment projections.
The most controversial part of the draft plans seems likely to be the fate of an area in the Colony Road corridor that is currently zoned for Myers Park. In two of the three draft maps, all of the Carmel Middle School zone would be shifted to South Meck, including a portion that now attends Sharon Elementary. All three of the maps call for the portion of Carmel Middle that attends Olde Providence Elementary to shift to South Meck. Parents in those zones have started online petitions and Facebook groups to advocate for options besides South Meck, which they say is too far away.
None of the draft maps includes changes to the boundary for Providence High School. That is likely to be a sticking point with some families whose school assignment is proposed to change from Myers Park to South Mecklenburg but who say they live closer to Providence than South Mecklenburg. CMS officials have said they planned to keep Providence’s boundaries intact because the school is at capacity and it wasn’t included in the verbiage for the relief high school in the 2017 bond package that is being used to pay for the new high school.
Here are the three maps currently under consideration:
(The district’s description of “Brown C” above does not specify the proposed feeder pattern, but compares it with an older plan called “Brown B,” which is not contained in the latest revisions. But the details are contained in the interactive map.)
Elementary school zones that under at least one of these maps are slated to be reassigned to new high school zones at least in part include Olde Providence, Sharon, Ballantyne, Hawk Ridge, Endhaven, McAlpine, Pineville, Polo Ridge and Rea Farms elementaries.
CMS planning director Claire Schuch and members of her team are continuing to appear at community meetings at schools across south Charlotte to explain draft maps and hear feedback, including one this morning at Olde Providence Elementary School.
The district plans to have a final recommendation ready for school board members to review in late January, and a public hearing and vote on the new boundaries is expected in February.
New school openings and boundary changes are common in a district as large as CMS, but this decision is especially intense because it affects the county’s three largest high schools — Myers Park, Ardrey Kell and South Meck — which combined have more than 10,000 students.
South Charlotte communities are historically vocal about their school assignment decisions, which can affect property values and neighborhood housing markets.