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South Charlotte parents oppose reassignment of students

Parents are committed to removing their children from the District’s successful Magnetic Language Pathway program if they are transferred from South Mecklenburg High School to the new EE Waddell Magnet High School when it opens in fall 2022.

And the students are begging the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education not to even consider the move.

“We are a successful school with so much diversity and culture, and I don’t see why that has to change,” said Nadia Bolden, a second year student at South Mecklenburg High who started her journey in a French program at Kindergarten.

“We must be the example and not the experience. And I’ll say it in French, ”she told board members at a public hearing last week.

Students and parents say CMS should “pause” a scenario that “would change a perfectly good high school.”

The World Language Academy, which offers studies in five languages ​​and accounts for 22% of total enrollment in southern Mecklenburg, is a flashpoint as the district plans to // reassign some students to alleviate excess capacity issues in a certain number of schools.

District officials presented a 55-page review, which included a range of storylines and community commentary involving Southeast Elementary, Lincoln Heights Elementary, Olympic High, and EE Waddell Magnet High.

The recommendations would move students to different schools at the elementary and secondary levels in various parts of the city, but a plan involving southern Mecklenburg has drawn the most attention – and criticism.

“I oppose the proposal to move the language program to Waddell,” Doug Benson, a parent of two South Mecklenburg students who are not on the language program, told school board members at the public hearing. . Benson was one of more than 50 members of the public who spoke.

“South Meck has become a shining example of a high school, which reflects the rich diversity of our community,” he said.

While a few board members have said they want to delay a decision on student reassignment, district officials are narrowing the scenarios down to a single recommendation for each school. The community will then be invited to provide feedback on the preliminary recommendations before a final recommendation is presented to council on July 13.

‘We had no idea’

Relocating the basic world language program would relieve southern Mecklenburg of more than 700 students and create the opportunity to provide partial relief to Myers Park High School, district officials said.

If the move is made, students in Kindergarten to Grade 8 currently attending EE Waddell Language Academy will move to the new South Academy of International Languages ​​(SAIL). And the World Language Academy would move to Waddell when it becomes a loving high school next year.

The district will also face more reallocations when two more planned high schools open between 2023 and 2023.

Of the 1,197 survey responses the district received on the Waddell Magnet proposal – the majority are not currently enrolled in Myers Park or South Mecklenburg – 81% said they would prefer the world language program remains south of Mecklenburg.

Sabine Macnamara has three children enrolled in the current EE Waddell Language Academy for Kindergarten to Grade 8 students, including a freshman who will be taking the program at South Mecklenburg this fall.

“I am, unfortunately, one of the many parents who would not continue on the language magnet path if he left South Meck and moved to Waddell,” she said.

Macnamara said she wanted her children to have “the full high school experience.” She said, “This is what is happening. It won’t be the experience we want. “

Macnamara and other relatives at Tuesday night’s public hearing questioned the district’s communication on the reassignment scenarios. Many said they had no idea what proposals were being developed.

Parents also said they had never seen the initial survey soliciting comment that the district made available earlier in the spring.

“We had no idea,” Macnamara said. “The first survey came at the bottom of an email.”

Macnamara said only 145 people responded to the first poll. The second district survey drew hundreds of additional participants: 938 people responded to a community feedback survey regarding a reassignment scenario that relieves overcrowding at Olympic High.

Questions sent to Superintendent Earnest Winston and Associate Superintendent Akeshia Craven-Howell for comments on the investigation process were not answered.

Macnamara created her own survey and sent it to parents of all seventh and eighth graders at Waddell Language Academy, as well as Collinswood Language Academy, another program that serves students from Kindergarten to Grade 8. year and feeds the World Language Academy currently in the South. Mecklenburg.

The results: 78% of families from both language academies voted to maintain the World Language Magnet program at South Mecklenburg High.

Out of 75% of eighth graders surveyed who will continue with the language magnet in southern Mecklenburg next fall, 27% said they would go to Waddell if the magnet program was moved in their 10th year.

The results were similar for seventh grade families.

“Based on these percentages, of the 260 loving students of southern Mecklenburg in the class of 2025, only 70 would go on to Waddell High School in grade 10,” Macnamara said. “I hope the decision is not final and that the CMS nail has not already been placed in the coffin of the Language Magnet.”

Make calculated decisions

School board member Rhonda Cheek, a former high school student in South Mecklenburg, wants colleagues to consider filing a decision on student reassignment until enrollment data is updated, among other information .

“It’s very difficult to make these calculated decisions,” Cheek said. “I ask for a delay on the whole project. It is our duty to take our time. “

Beyond the schools involved in Waddell’s script, Greg Asciutto, a teacher at Garinger High School, says East Charlotte has been advocating for a global language magnet “since well before the last student homework exam in 2016.”

“We believe that a partial language magnet here now would help alleviate overcrowding in southern Mecklenburg (and) allow this school to keep its current curriculum and give families in the East the course offerings they have longed for since. long and they deserve, ”Ascuitto told council at the public hearing.

“We have the demand for language programs.”

School board member Carol Sawyer said at the meeting that she felt the board was listening to the community of South Mecklenburg High in a way “we’ve never listened to other parts of town. I know my community in East Charlotte did not feel heard.

“We say fairness is the guiding principle in everything we do. This council’s response to the pressure, frankly, we are under from the residents of Myers Park and Southeast Charlotte is intense and frankly has nothing to do with student achievement.

She continued, “My emails are heavily focused on ‘the value of my property’ and ‘my right to go to a particular school because I could afford to buy in that part of town.’

“I just have to bring this up, as I take deep offense at some of the emails I receive and the level of privilege and entitlement expressed therein – as well as the utter contempt for our students who attend other schools and the affront that ‘they should go to a school that might not only have other rich white people. “

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