CHARLOTTE – Elyse Dashew is not up for re-election this cycle, but that hasn’t stopped the south Charlotte resident from campaigning for an issue she believes is critical to the success of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
Dashew has been advocating for the $922 million school bond referendum on this year’s ballot. It would address 29 of the highest priority school construction and renovation projects throughout Mecklenburg County.
She took time to answer questions about the bonds during the Ballantyne Community & Candidates Picnic on Oct. 15 at The Ballantyne.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about this school bond referendum?
Dashew: I think the biggest misconception is that people think that if this bond passes that we would get one gigantic check for $922 million to just spend right away.
The way it works is that it’s part of a carefully planned long-term plan with the county, where they will be allocating money to us over a period of years – a little bit at a time.
It is going to help us catch up with what we need to do but it’s not overnight.
There’s this notion that the north Mecklenburg area is shortchanged.
Dashew: That’s a misconception, too. Again, long-term plan. Capital planning is always a long-term thing.
If you go back to the year 2003 and you divvy up what each school board district has gotten, each one ought to be getting 16.67 percent if everything were even. They’ve actually gotten 25 percent, so they have gotten more than other districts.
They have a lot of needs up there. There are definitely some older and overcrowded schools. They are getting a new K-8. They do have the most recent high school that we built in Hough and middle school that we opened this year in JM Alexander.
But when you look at the growth in southwest Charlotte and the need there – it’s everywhere. We’re just kind of catching up where the need is most intense right now.
How have you been promoting the bonds?
Dashew: There is a Vote Yes committee (www.voteyesforbonds.com) that is completely independent of the school district. It’s made up of business and community leaders. I’ve been working with them to get the word out.
What makes me encouraged is their fundraising for the campaign. They set an audacious goal of raising $350,000. They raised $379,000. So the business community has been solidly behind this.
We’re working hard going to events like this. I was at the Latin American Festival yesterday. We’re doing radio shows. We’re about to do mailers. We’re just working as hard and as smart as we can.
Anything else residents should know?
I think people genuinely recognize the need is not made up here. Everyone has a personal experience with it.
The few schools that we have been able to build, we have been doing them on time and on budget.