Budget/Fiscal · Uncategorized

CMS Bonds

This November Mecklenburg voters- including LKN- will be asked to approve a $922M school bond package. They shouldn’t.

UPDATE:  I recently learned one of the projects (#16) is for a K-8 magnet school in Huntersville at a cost of $45M, so LKN will be receiving something.  My position on the matter remains unchanged.



According to CMS, 78% of district schools are at or over capacity, and 20,000 students are in “mobile learning units”- i.e trailers. Clearly the district needs to add capacity, and the bonds would pay for 17 new schools and relieve overcrowding at 20 others.  It would also replace and replace several schools that are more than 50 years old.

This all sounds well and good … except none of this money will be spent on Lake Norman  area schools. None.


Below is a graphical representation of the 28 projects comprising the bond.

The three largest projects are new high schools costing about $110M each.  According to School Planning and Management, last year the median new HS cost $47M, so $110M strikes me as rather pricey. However, that $45M figure is for a 1,000-student school. If enrollment is more along the 2,000-student mark (ala Hough), perhaps $110M is not out of the ordinary.

But it’s still expensive, and none of the projects are located in LKN.

Three Sisters and One Step Sister

Of the four “Mecklenburg” high schools- ie. South Meck, East Meck, West Meck and North Meck, the first three would benefit to the tune of $37M in renovations. This follows $30M in renovations on South and East Meck as part of the 2013 bond package.

North Mecklenburg gets zero despite being 20% over capacity.

The Northwest School of the Arts seems to be a favorite as well, receiving $12M in 2013 and another $17M this year.

(Lake Norman fared  a little better in 2013, with JM Alexander MS replacement ($30M) and renovations to Davidson Elementary ($8M).)

Uses of Funds

About half of the proceeds would be used for new construction, and a third or renovations, but…

…Lake Norman gets zero.

The current bond offering would soak up all debt capacity until about 2024. Even supposing a new referendum was on the ballot that year and LKN fared really well, the first new LKN school would not be completed until around 2027.

In other words, if this passes, LKN will get no new school capacity for the next decade.

This is one school initiative that should be given a failing grade.


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