Nov 7, 2023 - Education

Election results: Historic school bond passes, two new members to join CMS board

november 2023 election charlotte cms board of education charlotte-mecklenburg schools bond refrendum bonds

Photo: Alexandria Sands/Axios

Mecklenburg County broke a record Tuesday for passing the largest school bond referendum in North Carolina history.

Why it matters: The $2.5 billion in bonds will empower the county to finance 30 of its top prioritized Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools construction projects. The package includes three new middle schools, a new Uptown medical and technology education high school, a regional athletics complex with a stadium and pool, and 25 renovation and replacement projects.

  • Residents should brace for staggered tax increases over the next several years to help pay off the debt. Property taxes will rise by 1 cent per $100 valuation at least three times through 2029.

By the numbers: More than 63% of voters approved the referendum.

  • The last school bond package, totaling $947 million, passed in 2017 with 73% of the votes.

What they’re saying: “This bond will help keep our students safe and give them opportunities to learn in facilities they deserve.” Mary McCray, co-chair of the Vote Yes for School Bonds campaign, said in a statement.

CMS Board of Education

Two new members and one incumbent will represent the county at-large on the board of education.

  • Liz Monterrey and Monty Witherspoon were elected with more than 38,000 votes each. They join Lenora Shipp, the only incumbent on the ballot.
  • The electees succeed Chair Elyse Dashew and at-large member Jennifer De La Jara, who did not seek reelection.

Why it matters: The newcomers join a relatively fresh CMS leadership slate and face pressure to improve lagging student achievement. Five new district representatives joined the board last election. In May, the board hired a new superintendent, Crystal Hill, to replace Earnest Winston, who was terminated.

  • Witherspoon ran last year in District 2 but lost to the incumbent, Thelma Byers-Bailey, by 1,541 votes. He’s the pastor of Steele Creek AME Zion Church, a member of the Black Political Caucus and a former CMS student.
  • Monterrey is a recent transplant to Charlotte but says her child will attend CMS next year. She works in finance and is the daughter of Cuban immigrants.
  • Shipp is a former CMS student, teacher and principal. She was first elected in 2019 and reelected Tuesday night with 45,627 votes.
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