CMS District 4 Board of Education Candidates Share Their Views

Oct 26, 2017

The election for Charlotte Mecklenburg's school board will take place on Nov. 7.  There are six seats up for grabs in the district with incumbents seeking re-election in three of them. WFAE sent a list of questions to all of the school board candidates about their backgrounds and thoughts on a few issues the district is facing, including student assignment and school bonds.  

Here are their responses. Some were edited for brevity:

DISTRICT 4

Queen Thompson

Occupation: Retired CMS dropout prevention counselor and social worker

Queen Thompson

  

Have you ever held or run for political office before?

Yes. I ran twice for CMS school board

 

What is your position on the school bond plan?

I am concerned that the bonds are not tied to student achievement. The new schools proposals do not reflect innovative programs coming to the schools selected. Some schools that are far worse off got bumped down on the list for another seven years. Finally, I am concerned with fiscal accountability. 

 

What will be a top priority for you, if you are elected?

Addressing student achievement and staff development and training will be top priorities for me.

 

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

I am concerned that the student assignment plan is not sufficient to provide the vast number of students a quality free public education. A large number of students in high poverty schools are allowed to sit an entire school year without quality teachers. Yet their academic progress is compared to students who have quality instructors. The heart of the issue is failing and low-performing schools. That intentionally creates a permanent underclass, fueling a school-to-prison pipeline. 

 

What do you think needs to happen to make CMS more racially diverse and economically?

CMS has successfully been re-segregated by race and social class. The only assurance of true equity is to have quality programs serving the needs of students and the community in all sectors of the community.

CAROL SAWYER

Occupation:  CMS volunteer and leadership member of OneMECK.org and MecklenburgACTS.org

 

Carol Sawyer
Credit submitted

  

Have you ever held or run for an elected office?

No.

 

What will be a top priority for you if elected?

My top priorities are to ensure students at high poverty schools have equal access to advanced math, science, and the arts; effectively communicate with CMS parents and the community; and strengthen the relationship between the CMS school board, the County Commission, Charlotte City Council and other municipalities.

What is your position on the bond issue and why?

I support the bond issue because CMS facilities have not kept up with our rapid growth. In addition to building new schools, the bonds will replace aging facilities and make needed renovations. Yet, even with this bond, CMS needs will not be fully met. 

 

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

I support the pupil assignment plan, but it did not do enough to meet the needs of many District 4 schools. District 4 schools have been overlooked for too long. We need to work to find ways to support magnets and other programs to rebuild community support for our eastside schools. The magnet lottery changes have the potential to increase socio-economic balance in our schools of choice. I actively supported the school board’s most effective effort to break up concentrations of poverty – the Billingsville-Cotswold pairing, and the Sedgefield-Dilworth-Eastover reconfiguration.

 

What do you think needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools?

Increasing racial and socioeconomic diversity in CMS will require a community-wide effort and will. CMS cannot tackle this problem alone. The City and towns must adjust their housing policies to support mixed income housing, and distribute low-income and workforce housing throughout the community. As a community, we must be willing to make personal decisions that support racial and economic diversity, recognizing that those decisions will benefit our own children and those in the community as a whole. 

 

STEPHANIE SNEED

Occupation: Attorney

 

Stephanie Sneed
Credit submitted

  

Have you ever held or run for an elected office?

No.

 

What will be a top priority for you if elected?

My top priority will be to address closing the achievement gap and ensuring there is equity in schools in an effort to ensure all students are college ready. The Board must commit to equitably implementing innovative instructional programs and offering varied programs and courses such as STEAM, the arts and trade based courses for a comprehensive educational experience.

What is your position on the bond issue and why?

I support the bond because it will ease some overcrowding with the building of new schools. Passage will also permit much needed repairs and building additions. Overcrowded classrooms and failing buildings are a barrier to ensuring our students receive a superior education. Lastly, it will permit the creation of some new specialty schools which is a step towards making CMS a top-tier school district.

What is your position on the student assignment plan?

The focus has become misplaced in that it should be about bringing all schools in all neighborhoods to an acceptable level of  performance.

What do you think needs to happen to make CMS schools more racially and economically diverse and improve low-performing schools?

The Board must address the achievement gaps and dedicate resources to address it through tailored instructional programs and after school opportunities. Additionally, as a community we must address socioeconomic challenges children face that in turn affect them in the classroom. These can be achieved through programs and partnerships with community organizations, government service programs and the private sector.

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