History of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

  • The Early Years 1882-1935

    Today, the public school district known as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools began in Charlotte in 1882 when T.J. Mitchell was chosen as the first superintendent of the segregated city school district. The system's first school, known as the South School, was located on the corner of East Morehead Street and South Boulevard in the barracks of the Carolina Military Institute. The first school for African-American children was organized in 1882 and was known as Myers Street School.

    From 1886 to 1888, Professor J.T. Corlew, a former school principal in Charlotte, served as the second superintendent of the city school system.

    South Graded School 1900From 1888 until 1913, Dr. Alexander Graham served as superintendent of what had become known as the "largest public school system south of Baltimore." Often called the father of graded schools in North Carolina, Graham developed a co-ed school, dropped Latin and Greek, and added drawing and music to the curriculum. He opened the district's second school for white students in 1900, the North School, which served students to the 10th grade. The school's layout, which was described as the finest school building in North Carolina, was developed from plans for a hospital in Texas. Today, First Ward Accelerated Learning Academy stands on the site of the North School.

    The district expanded in 1907, pulling several county schools into the city district. Some of the schools included Dilworth School, Seversville School, Elizabeth Mill School, Belmont School, and Biddleville School.

    Dr. Harry Harding was named superintendent in 1913, and school construction continued during the next decade. In 1920, Alexander Graham High School was built, and three years later, Central High School was established. The Alexander Graham School became the state's first junior high school. In 1925, a 12th grade was added to the graded school system.

    During the Depression, the school district experienced great difficulty with a budget cut of 61 percent and elimination of the 12th grade in 1934 and the elimination of teaching and other positions. Many positions were also cut during this time. In 1935, 12th grade was reinstituted.


  • Consolidation 1935 -1953

  • Desegregation 1954 - 1975

  • Moving forward 1972 - 1996

  • Swann returns 1997 - 2002

  • Plaudits and prizes 2002 - Present Day