Charlotte rallies business bigwigs to kick off school bond campaign

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The campaign for a nearly $1 billion school bond has begun.

A day after Mecklenburg County commissioners put a bond referendum on this November’s ballot that would fund new school buildings and renovations across the city, Charlotte’s business and government leaders kicked off a campaign to get voters to approve them.

The campaign’s leaders draw from some of city’s largest employers, including Carolinas HealthCare System and AT&T. They also include civic mainstays.

  • Debra Plousha Moore, chief of staff and executive vice president for Carolinas HealthCare System
  • Arthur Griffin, former chair of the Board of Education
  • Julie Cho, community advocate and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools parent
  • Carlos Sanchez, vice president of external affairs for AT&T North Carolina
  • Brandon Neal, an attorney for Wells Fargo and a CMS graduate

Why is the business community getting involved?

“While Charlotte is more successful than peer regions in attracting talent from elsewhere, we don’t do as good of a job at growing our organic talent potential that exists,” Charlotte Chamber Chair Bob Morgan said.

The school improvements from the bond, he says, will help break cycles of poverty and provide infrastructure to support the growing number of students in Charlotte. Morgan said a tax increase won’t be required to pay for the bond.

Sanchez told the Agenda that he and his company, AT&T, are supporting the bond to help strengthen the community as Charlotte grows.

“We need adequate building facilities to be able to teach our children and involve them in their educational process,” he said.

Wait, what’s this bond thing again?

The Mecklenburg County commissioners voted Tuesday to place the $922 million bond referendum on the November ballot. The bond, the largest in Mecklenburg County history, will go to fund 29 CMS projects, including new schools, replacement schools, renovations and additions.

Here’s a breakdown of how the $922 million will be used:

  • 10 new schools ($481 million)
    • Five elementary schools
    • Two high schools
    • Two K-8 schools
    • One specialty school
  • Seven replacement schools ($305 million)
    • One high school
    • Five elementary schools
    • One K-8 school
  • 12 renovations and additions ($136 million)
    • Classrooms, gymnasiums, cafeterias and upgrades for Career and Technical Education programs

The new schools will help relieve existing schools that are overcrowded, such as South Mecklenburg, Ardrey Kell and Myers Park high schools.

Schools to be replaced include West Charlotte High, Collinswood Language Academy and Montclaire Elementary. Renovations and additions will take place at Harding High, Sharon Elementary and East Mecklenburg High, among others.

Here’s a full list:

The school improvements covered by the bond fit into a larger $1.5 billion Capital Improvement Plan that will span from 2019-2023. This plan also includes a new learning resource center for Central Piedmont Community College, a new Charlotte Mecklenburg Main library and a Discovery Place nature museum. The Capital Improvement Plan was also approved by county commissioners Tuesday night.

For more information, visit VoteYesForBonds.com.

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