Report: Magnet Programs Lack Diversity. CMS Seeks To Bridge the Gap and Add More Magnet Seats.

Tuesday night’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education meeting was riddled with complaints about magnet schools, bus stop access, and lack of diversity in preferred programs.

CMS says four thousand students were on the waiting list for a magnet program last year and never got in.

Superintendent Ann Clark recommends changes she says would put more students in their preferred classrooms.

"We're going to let our waiting list drive how we expand because to me that's students and parents saying this is a program we want," said Ann Clark.

Tuesday night, superintendent Clark recommended the board of education approve additional seats at current magnet programs, add new programs to some existing magnet schools - such as Harding Institute of Technology and Global Leadership Academy, and open a partial magnet at Billingsville Elementary.

"We're working with our student planning office to determine the capacity of our current magnet seats, so we don't know a number yet. With our partial magnets, we typically add two or three grade levels at a time with fifty seats per grade level," said Natasha Thompson with CMS.

Magnet schools are public schools that offer specialized courses. Demand for more magnet seats isn't the only challenge.

"What Magnet Schools of America's report found is that while we have a very diverse community, not all of our magnet programs reflect the diversity of that community,” said Thompson.

She says the report showed exceptional children and students whose second language is English are underrepresented. A way of bridging that gap? Bring back bus stops, which pick up kids in their own neighborhoods and get rid of shuttle stops. They often require parents to drop off their children at a centralized spot which is difficult for working families.

"If I'm going to expand magnets and seats, that's why I led with the elimination of shuttle stops. If we're going to have equal access to every single student," said Clark.

The superintendent says getting rid of shuttle stops would come with a price. She says it could cost up to six million dollars to restore neighborhood bus stops.

We're told the school board is behind getting rid of shuttle stops and expanding seats at current magnet programs. The school board says it's set to discuss all of the superintendent's recommendations during its November and December meetings.