CMS Board of Ed. candidates talk a better school system

How to guide a school system in the midst of state budget cuts and encourage under-paid teachers to do their best will be some of the challenges and topics candidates who filed for positions on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education will face this election season.

Filing closed July 19 for Board of Education seats, including District 5, which covers SouthPark, and District 6, which covers south Charlotte, Pineville, Matthews and Mint Hill.

This week, South Charlotte Weekly is taking a quick look at the five candidates who have filed for the positions, including District 5 incumbent Eric Davis. Current District 6 representative Amelia Stinson-Wesley of Pineville is not seeking re-election.

Each candidate was asked the same four questions and responded through email. District 6 candidate Paul Bailey did not respond to questions prior to South Charlotte Weekly’s press deadline. For candidates’ full answers to the following questions, go to www.thecharlotteweekly.com.

District 5

Eric Davis
704-651-0217
ericc.davis@cms.k12.nc.us

Why did you decide to run?

As a Charlotte native who received a great start in life through CMS, I am convinced we have a much better school system than we give ourselves credit for. While we may see areas in which we want CMS to improve, we can move CMS closer to our aspirations for our students by electing non-partisan, practical, problem-solving representatives with leadership skills. That is the type of service that I have provided in my first term, and will continue to do so in my second term.

What are some of your main concerns for schools in south Charlotte?

Due to severe budget reductions, our schools have fewer teachers who earn less, but are faced with greater demands, larger classes and the need for better tools. While we all may cherish our individual school, we should recognize that our own school can only be as good as the system that supports the school. Pulling together to elevate CMS, especially the value that we place on the profession of teaching, will raise the performance of south Charlotte students and all schools throughout CMS.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Leadership

What pertinent experience do you have?

As chair during my first two years, I provided calm, steadfast leadership that enabled the board to guide CMS through the financial crisis and to emerge a more efficient and effective school system. Throughout my first term, I worked to create a spirit of teamwork and unity of effort which, when combined with the receptiveness of my colleagues, resulted in a more effective board. The board’s improved performance increased confidence in CMS leadership and enabled the board to attract Dr. Heath Morrison, the National Superintendent of the Year, to run our system.

Edward Donaldson
704-995-4160
donaldsone@ncicp.com
edwarddonaldson.com

Why did you decide to run?

As a parent of a child entering Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools this year, I am concerned about the education of the students. Schools’ test scores need to be improved, focus on core education while implementing technology in the course study, improvements to the “school lottery” selection process, make the student assignment process more equitable and improve safety/discipline in the classrooms. My wife was a former CMS schoolteacher, so I am well aware of the issues facing teachers and we need to find ways to let the teachers teach.

What are the main concerns for schools in south Charlotte?

We must find a way to encourage parents to choose CMS over private or charter schools.  This will require getting feedback from the neighborhood parents about the concerns and addressing them. The school system needs to look at trends and respond sooner. (Testing, assignment, budget issues… etc.)  The school district is too large. We as a board should seek changes to the law that would allow for school districts with large student enrollment to give the community the option of splitting the school district into smaller (local) districts.

What word best describes your candidacy?

Passionate

What pertinent experience do you have?

I am a graduate of CMS and a concerned parent who wants the best education for my child. I have a degree in political science and understand the challenges facing a large school district. I have construction knowledge and an eye for detail, which will become an asset to improving the school facility and the learning environment. I have been involved with some local community organizations and political party activities.

District 6

Bolyn McClung
704-641-1227
bolyn@mcclungforcms.com
www.mcclungforcms.com

Why did you decide to run?

For eight years I’ve prepared to serve the public education needs of District 6 and CMS. It’s time to put that to use. My first-name basis with all of the education leaders in Mecklenburg (allows) me to do the best for District 6 the quickest. My positions as a supporter of public education are clear. The district has had five school board members since 2001. That might have something to do with the district being on the short-end of the money stick.

What are some of your main concerns for schools in south Charlotte?

The state budget is a real bother. The school board always seems to put the urban districts’ problems above District 6. This need not be the case. There are ways to have great student achievement everywhere without District 6 having to make so many sacrifices. In 2006, 2007 and 2008, the county stepped forward and built schools in District 6. This year will see two rebuilt schools come in line. But the influx of families into our wonderful communities is once again straining classrooms. District 6 needs another middle school. It is too far down the construction list.

What one word best describes your candidacy?

Prepared

What pertinent experience do you have?

Co-chair of the successful $581 million Mecklenburg Schools, Parks, Library, CPCC Bond Campaign in 2007. This role and my service on the School Building Solutions Committee was where I began to understand that the school system is a complex organization driven by policy. During the great recession, I maintained a website that provided reports and features on the whole district’s bi-weekly budget changes. I’ve talked to everyone from the three most recent superintendents, the chief financial officer, principals, teachers and parents and every school board member as to why this and that are important budget issues. The billion-dollar CMS budget is not foreign to me. District 6 can benefit from my experience.

Doug Wrona
dailyshowdemocrat@gmail.com

Why did you decide to run?

I decided to run because I have worked for CMS for nine years and I’ve seen the amount of testing increase, little to no pay increases, support and respect for teachers has decreased and foundations are trying to implement corporate-based pay and incentive models on our schools.

What are some of your main concerns for schools in south Charlotte?

I believe (the above) statement also covers some of the main concerns I have.

What word best describes your candidacy?

Progressive. I read articles about strategies that are actually effective in schools, and I seek out research that is research and fact-based. The strategies and research is out there to make changes that will benefit our schools.  I’ll introduce and advocate for these progressive strategies if elected to the school
board.

What pertinent experience do you have?

I have no experience running for office, but I have worked for CMS for nine years.  I started off as a teacher assistant while I took classes to get my teacher certification. Then I taught fourth grade for four years, and for the past three and half years I have worked as a Title I tutor. During the 2011-12 school year, I returned to the classroom to teach sixth-grade math for half a year. I’m hoping to bring a progressive teacher’s perspective to the Board of Education from District 6.

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