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Education - Carolina Weekly

Education - Carolina Weekly

Education - Carolina

WBTV Weekend Weather FRI SAT SUN ABOUT THE COMMUNITY, FOR THE COMMUNITY Charlotte 2008-09 Performing Arts Preview Warm, T-storms possible High 83 Low 67 Partly cloudy, T-storms possible High 86 Low 68 Audited circulation: 45,000 Partly cloudy, T-storms possible High 88 Low 68 Volume 7, Number 34 • August 22-28, 2008 www.thecharlotteweekly.com An independent, award-winning and locally owned newspaper Follow this icon to find back-toschool stories CMS vows to ‘play fair’ ...................10 The lowdown on year-round schools .....................13 Surviving college with ADHD .....16 Ask Pete ............................................18 Countdown-to-college calendar ............................................................20 Healthy cafeterias? ..........................39 Ardrey Kell vs. Mallard Creek Game of the Week pages 30-31 Back-to-school issue School construction is, at its root, a guessing game. Sure, there are complex formulas to follow, population projections to consider and a delicate balance between funding and implementation to achieve. But in the end, it’s nearly impossible to gauge a school’s effectiveness before its doors open. With five new elementary schools and a leadership academy opening this month and 25 more projects either in the design phase or under construction, Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools’ ambitious construction schedule has been plagued with second-guessing as the student population boom slows. Nonetheless, CMS can’t simply abandon all its plans, said Mike Raible, executive director of planning and facilities. New buildings also don’t outweigh the old, he continued. The district’s renovation schedule is just as lengthy as CMS makes due with existing facilities and a new-construction budget that fell short of leaders’ expectations. Few bells and whistles are found within the current architectural prototypes, though fresh designs and artistic facades are seen as beacons of progress. But in the end, Raible said, the building is just a vessel for what goes on inside its walls. “If we’re really successful, the building fades away,” he said. “It’s all about the educational program. A top-notch educator makes or breaks that program.” See pullout inside Charlotte Weekly On pace, but on target? As new schools open, CMS must weigh future needs by Jonathan Reed jonathan@thecharlotteweekly.com Budget battles Answering its doubters is nothing new for CMS, which relies on taxpayer support for its capital projects. When voters rejected the schoolconstruction bond package on the 2005 ballot, CMS instead sought Certificates of Participation – involving private-sector funds – to build and renovate schools; many of those projects were finished over the past two years. The $516 million bond package voters approved last November already is being used to fund renovations and additions, but district residents likely won’t see the returns on that money this school year. And the 2007 package offered no guarantee that CMS won’t return in 2009 to ask for more money – Superintendent Peter Gorman has said the district needs more than $2 billion to meet construction needs. “(The $516 million is) a substantial down payment,” Raible explained. “It’s not all that we asked for, but it’s nevertheless a down payment on the needs we had.” Raible noted that 60 percent of renovation or new-construction costs are “above the ceiling” features – the electrical wiring and air ducts blocked from view by ceiling tiles. (more on page 3) Regan’s Rant ......................................6 News ...................................................8 Education .........................................13 Sports.................................................24 Books .................................................34 Crossword .........................................35 Culinary ............................................36 Movies ...............................................39 Classifieds .........................................44 Zone A In the wake of a slowing student population boom and less-thanexpected budget, Charlotte- Mecklenburg Schools can’t entirely abandon its aggressive construction schedule, which includes five new elementary schools and a leadership academy opening this month and 25 more projects either in design or under construction. Tim Steadman/CW photos

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