Huntersville leaders considering new charter school

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Huntersville leaders will now decide if they want to open a new charter school separate from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Monday night marked the first meeting for Huntersville’s Education Options Study Commission that was created in October.

The group was created after House Bill 514 was passed, that gives towns like Huntersville and Matthews the right to start their own charter school system, should they choose to do so.

The Commissioners have a wide resume, made up of 11 parents, financial advisors, attorney’s, and former Mecklenburg County Commissioners.

“It was important to me that someone who has kids in school right now and is happy with CMS can be here to represent that.”

Right now the commission is discussing several options that could bring some major changes. A final decision is set for mid-May.

“We felt like we haven’t been a priority for 20 years,” said Huntersville Mayor John Anerella. He believes CMS have ignored the towns concerns: "There's overcrowding, the logistics of moving kids around, the safety issue."

Last year Mecklenburg County granted CMS a $923 million bond, but there are no guarantees of North Mecklenburg and Huntersville schools seeing a dime.

“CMS allocates the money as they so see fit,” said Jim Puckett, Mecklenburg County Commissioner and member of the Huntersville Education Options Study Commission. “There is no mandate for them to do it evenly across the county.”

The district also plans to spend $9 million on security upgrades across 175 schools, but after the Butler High School shooting, Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox said they will be revising that plan. The big question: How much money will Huntersville schools see?

Now the Commission has five options:

1.       Open a stand-alone charter school
2.       Establish municipal sponsored charter partnering with new or existing charter school
3.       Partner with CMS for new school or expansion of existing school
4.       The feasibility of dividing the Charlotte Mecklenburg LEA into smaller LEAs
5.       Do nothing
“Everything is on the table,” said Aneralla.

The Town of Huntersville wants to release a survey in the first 30 days to gather community input, but on Monday night commissioners questioned the timeline and purpose of the survey. Concerned about logistics, they are asking the town for clarification.