CHARLOTTE – A proposed charter school in east Charlotte that could draw students from Mint Hill and Matthews moved a step closer to opening its doors as representatives of the Movement School presented rezoning plans July 15 to the Charlotte City Council.
The council could approve rezoning as early as next month.
Movement East will be located on a four-acre parcel that formerly housed a Harris Teeter store on Central Avenue near Sharon Amity Road. The proposed school will open as a kindergarten and first-grade facility with plans to expand to a kindergarten through eighth-grade school. Movement East will be tuition-free, and there will be an application process.
Plans call for renovating the vacant 34,000-square-foot Harris Teeter as well as constructing a second two-story building adjacent to the existing structure. The school, which plans to open in fall 2020, will offer busing within a five-mile radius of its campus, although students outside the five-mile radius can also apply to attend the school. The busing zone includes Lebanon Road Elementary School in Mint Hill.
Movement School officials told the city council that they plan to invest $12 million into the proposed school. In an application the school filed with the state in 2016, school officials estimated the annual budget in the fourth year of operation would be around $4 million.
“We are incredibly excited about the opportunity to be a part of the east Charlotte community,” said Movement East Founding School Leader Barbara Robinson. “Our mission is to provide a high-quality educational choice for the families in the community.’’
The proposed school is next to the vacant Eastland Mall property and District 5 Councilman Matt Newton, who represents the area, told the council there was some disappointment in the community when the charter school was first proposed but added that the sentiment is starting to turn around.
“A lot of folks look at the Eastland site and want to see some retail, some kind of vibrant economic driver at the site,” he said.
Newton also asked school officials about the proposed capacity of the school and where the students would be sourced from.
“From what I am hearing from the community is we want to make sure they are local,” Newton said. “I don’t know if this is off-topic here?”
But Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles said the meeting was for proposed land use of the site and didn’t allow Newton’s question to be answered. Newton withdrew his question.
Movement School operates a charter school in west Charlotte, which opened in 2017. The school was founded by former Carolina Panthers tight end Casey Crawford. Crawford founded Movement Mortgage in 2008 and the firm has grown from four employees to over 4,000 employees with 650 offices across the country.
The two buildings on the proposed campus will not exceed 100,000 square feet. School officials also told the city council the school will house a “religious institution” and a coffee shop that would be open to the public. There would be three entrances and exits on the property.
“The existing building will be renovated and upfitted to accommodate school use,” said attorney John Carmichael, who represented Movement School. “A new building would be built to accommodate school use.”
Movement School executive director Tim Hurley helped lead the development of the campus in west Charlotte. He said the new school will strive to be an active member of the community.
“We worked hard to do that on the west side,” Hurley said. “In the past 12 months, we have hosted over 30 non-profit groups at the school after hours. They are free or for the bigger events, there is a $100 cleaning fee. We invested over $12 million in that property and that is what we plan to do on the east side. We want it to be an asset for the entire community.’’
District 3 Councilwomen LaWana Mayfield, who represents the district where the current Movement School operates on Freedom Drive, said the school has been actively involved in the community since it opened.
“We have done quite a bit of work together,” Mayfield said. “Movement School has not only been active with non-profit organizations that have come in but Movement School also hosted our City of Charlotte, in partnership with the county job fair. Movement School has been a considerable partner in the area.’’