CMS plans three-story, $73-million middle school to relieve crowding in south Charlotte

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is eyeing 20 acres in the Rea Farms area for a new middle school with a three-story building and athletic fields.

The $73 million school would relieve overcrowding at Community House and Jay M. Robinson middle schools in south Charlotte, along with Rea Farms STEAM Academy, a K-8 school.

“South Charlotte is an area that has grown and is continuing to grow,” Dennis LaCaria, a CMS consultant told The Charlotte Observer. “This is a site we have long identified as a potential location for a school, and we are grateful for the opportunity to give our families this badly needed relief.”

Cato Ad Holdings LLC, based in Charlotte, owns the property along Tom Short Road, according to Mecklenburg County property records. LaCaria said the district will purchase the property and that it’s part of a mixed-use development led by Childress Klein.

Rezoning petitions last week describe plans to build a “residential community with large walkable open space with trails” along with the new CMS middle school.

Impact to south Charlotte parents

The proposed middle school is on a list of 40 projects costing $2.88 billion that could be on a November bond referendum. It’s one of three new middle schools on the 40-project list, including one that would relieve overcrowding at Bailey Road and J.M. Alexander middle school and Davidson K-8. The third school would relieve Southwest and Kennedy middle schools.

In South Charlotte, Community House Middle has an enrollment of 1,412. Jay M. Robinson Middle has 1,305 students. Rea Farms STEAM Academy is a partial magnet consisting of 70% neighborhood students and 30% magnet students.

“Community House Middle has a student population that is larger than many, if not most, high schools in the state,” LaCaria said, “despite only having three grades.”

LaCaria said CMS has money for the land, but not for the school. The district needs the bond referendum to build it, he said.

No meetings — yet

CMS has yet to schedule engagement meetings or come up with preliminary boundaries for the schools the new middle school will impact, but it could add to pre-existing controversy about south Charlotte school boundaries.

South Charlotte parents have rallied around existing boundaries with a new high school scheduled to shift feeder patterns in August 2024. The new high school would be at 12218 North Community House Road, near Interstate 485.

Reassignment plans for that school will impact students in the district’s three largest high schools — Myers Park, Ardrey Kell and South Mecklenburg — and dozens of elementary and middle schools.

Parents started a petition on in late November because current and former parents of Sharon Elementary students do not want to be split off.

A group of 266 parents created the private Facebook page “Voice for Rational OP Feeder Pattern.”

What’s next?

Nothing is locked in.

A public hearing on the proposed bond package, which includes 40 projects estimated to cost $2.88 billion, is scheduled for Feb. 14 during the regular school board meeting. Board members will vote on the bond package Feb. 28.

If it is approved, the BOE will pitch the package to county commissioners, who will determine the amount that voters will see on the ballot in November. Voters ultimately make the decision on the bond package.

As far as the rezoning application that includes the middle school, developers next will twice present the project to the Charlotte City Council. The first is for a public hearing. Residents can comment with support or opposition. The second time, city council members will vote.