Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor’s Wednesday morning tweet calling for a task force to explore a school district split.
Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor’s Wednesday morning tweet calling for a task force to explore a school district split.

Education

Matthews mayor: It’s time to explore a suburban split from CMS

February 24, 2016 5:54 PM

Matthews Mayor Jim Taylor said Wednesday that concerns about Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools busing have pushed him to explore a separate suburban school district.

He said he’s not sure how practical such a plan would be, but he’ll convene a task force – maybe combined with representatives from Mint Hill and Pineville – to figure that out.

“Is it doable or is it a pie-in-the-sky dream? It’s worth having the conversation,” Taylor said.

Talk about splitting the countywide school district has flared before, generally when suburban frustration with CMS hits a boiling point. Though some “secession” meetings have drawn large crowds, there has never been a detailed plan.

Taylor acknowledged that a split, which would require action from the General Assembly, would likely be complex and costly. He tweeted a “call 2 action ... to possibly leave @CharMeckSchools” at 7 a.m. Wednesday, just hours after the CMS board approved student assignment goals that don’t include any mention of protecting neighborhood schools.

Taylor said state Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Cornelius Republican, offered to take part in talks. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett tweeted his support.

@jamesptaylor @townofmatthews @TownofPineville @minthillnc @CharMeckSchools I'm w/ you, B. James & I have talked about three dist since 97

— Jim Puckett (@Puckettbocc) February 24, 2016

School board members say they plan to convene a task force of county and municipal officials in hopes of creating a united front for a revised student assignment plan. Taylor said Wednesday he has not been approached about such a group.

He said he spoke with Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers about the possibility of creating a separate school district at a Feb. 16 meeting in Matthews that drew about 1,000 people to talk about the CMS assignment review.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, several members said they aren’t out to disrupt community schools.

“We are not going to do miles and miles and miles of busing,” said board member Ruby Jones, who called the anti-busing sentiment “hysteria and overreaction to something that’s not there.”

But Taylor said until CMS makes a clear decision, separation may be the best hope for his constituents.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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