Spectators wait for the CMS boundary hearing to begin on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Government Center in Charlotte, NC. Photo credit: Jeff Siner, The Charlotte Observer

Hundreds turned out Tuesday to celebrate and skewer Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ plan to shift boundaries, magnet programs and feeder patterns in 2018.

A series of speakers were united in their passion for public schools, but had different views of the proposal Superintendent Ann Clark unveiled two weeks earlier.

“This feels like a numbers game, and our children are more than numbers,” said Cotswold parent Lecil Sullivan, who got hearty applause when she urged the board to wait for better information before voting.

Sullivan was speaking about one of the most controversial parts of the plan, which would merge the zones for Dilworth and Sedgefield elementary schools and for Cotswold and Billingsville elementary schools, with students attending one school in grades K-2 and another for 3-5. That proposal drew critics and passionate defenders.

“The merger of these two schools is beyond brilliant to me,” said Cotswold parent Mendy Godman.

For the last two weeks, parents and neighborhood groups have peppered board members and CMS staff with suggestions and alternative plans. Those who hoped to hear Tuesday whether their ideas will be considered had to keep waiting: Clark gave only a quick verbal wrap-up Tuesday. She said specifics on any new options will be aired at a May 16 work session, with the vote on May 24.

She said the total cost of her plan is $5.8 million, and said she will post more about those costs Wednesday on the CMS website. She said 7,114 students and 45 schools would be affected by boundary changes.

The board spent three hours Tuesday hearing from almost 90 speakers. When the meeting began, an overflow crowd of about 200 watched the televised meeting from the Government Center lobby.

While most spoke to specific parts of the plan, others voiced support or criticism of the process that began in 2015.

Mtu Pugh, a CMS parent and board chair of Communities in Schools, said no assignment plan can change the large number of Mecklenburg students who come from poverty, but this proposal helps address it.

“This is not the answer, but this is part of the answer,” he said.

Some said they wanted the plan to do more to break up concentrations of poverty, while others complained that neither board members nor parents have had enough time to understand the complex plan and consider the best options. Some parents have urged the board to delay voting until November, with almost 1,400 people signing an electronic “delay the vote” petition.

“You just launched it to us 14 days ago,” said Kevin Bilderback, a Dilworth Elementary parent.

Read more at CharlotteObserver.com.