CMS approves $2.9 billion taxpayer-funded bond for capital improvements

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board approved a $2.9 billion bond Tuesday night.

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The Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners would have to approve CMS’ decision for a vote in November’s ballot.

If approved by voters, CMS officials would demolish the Berryhill School in west Charlotte and build a new one, which would cost $110 million.

That is one of the many projects CMS has in mind.

Last May, CMS had planned 125 projects for the Capital Improvement Plan at a cost of more than $5 billion.

The school board whittled that down to 30 projects over the next five years at a cost of 2.9 billion.

District officials said there are several issues that require a bond referendum, which include addressing old buildings that weren’t built in accordance with current standards.

Overcrowded schools are also an issue districtwide.

“We’ve got a lot of mobile units at a lot of our facilities,” said Brian Schultz, CMS chief of operations. “In fact, when we looked at our numbers and at the end of last school year, we had 105 schools that were at or over capacity.”

Critical projects include:

  • $100 million to replace the Albemarle Road Middle school building.

  • $94 million to build a new middle school on Stumptown Road in Huntersville.

  • $20 million for an addition and renovation at EE Waddell as it prepares for the launch of a new magnet program.

  • $186 million for a brand new medical and technology high school at the old Metro School site in Uptown’s Second Ward.

Mecklenburg County commissioners must give their seal of approval.

Commissioner Pat Cotham said she is concerned about taxpayers struggling under an uncertain economy.

“This is getting kind of scary about how much we are expecting people to pay,” Cotham said. “I would like to see the tax rate go down because the values have gone up so much. Put all that together and then for CMS to ask for $2.9 billion, I just have a hard time. That’s going to fly. I really do”

CMS board members will have a joint meeting with commissioners on Saturday morning to discuss the bond request.

The measure would then go to the state’s local government commission.

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