District 6’s rep ready to help new leader

While local candidates facing election this November have been walking the streets, knocking on doors and working to convince constituents they’ll be the best representatives, current Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board of Education District 6 representative Amelia Stinson-Wesley is just cherishing every last moment.

The Pineville resident, who represents Pineville, Ballantyne, Matthews and Mint Hill on the board, isn’t seeking re-election this November after serving two years. Stinson-Wesley took the seat after being voted in by the board when previous District 6 representative Tim Morgan won the at-large race in 2011, leaving the last two years of the District 6 seat vacant.

“The timing of my appointment was very stressful,” Stinson-Wesley said about joining the board mid-term. “I tried hard to mitigate some of that stress, but probably the most challenging thing is the sheer volume of information you need to process in a short amount of time. It’s like graduate school to the Nth degree.”

Stinson-Wesley, who has both a third-grader and sixth-grader in CMS, said balancing her nonprofit work, family and the school board has proved to be a difficult task the past two years. But while at times difficult, her term on the board has been very beneficial, she said. Connecting with the District 6 towns, talking with area residents, working side-by-side with other board of education members and visiting more than 50 area schools has made the short term worthwhile, she said.

And while she isn’t running for re-election, she hopes to work with the next candidate, whoever he may be, and stay heavily involved in education and CMS as much as possible.

Paul Bailey, current mayor pro-tem of Matthews, education advocate Bolyn McClung and local educator Doug Wrona are all running for District 6. Find out more about the candidates on www.thecharlotteweekly.com. The new representative will take Stinson-Wesley’s seat in December.

“I would like to have a good relationship with the district representative who follows me because they are going to be my representative. I would love to stay involved to broader CMS issues, too,” Stinson-Wesley said, adding she’ll continue to be involved with her kids’ schools’ parent-teacher groups.

The next District 6 representative should first familiarize himself with not only issues in District 6, but also across CMS, Stinson-Wesley said, as the district will face many challenges in coming years. From budget issues and cuts, expanded programming for each individual school and problems with overcrowding, the next District 6 representative will have his hands full, Stinson-Wesley said.

Stinson-Wesley hopes the next representative will advocate for more consistency between what CMS and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners counts as growth, as District 6, in particular, along with District 1, both have needs in those areas.

“But I am so impressed with how well the District 6 principals deal with their overcrowding,” she said. “Replacement schools versus growth schools – that’s an issue in my district. We can have all the replacement schools we can get, but what we really need are growth schools.”

Working on the school board or in public office often means criticism from area constituents, because much of the work is done behind the scenes, Stinson-Wesley said. As part of the CMS policy committee, Stinson-Wesley has been part of policy changes for CMS employees – recently, updates in the district’s policies on workplace violence, something that is near and dear to her heart, she said. Stinson-Wesley is a known advocate for those without a voice, previously working with nonprofits like the battered women’s shelter.

So what’s next for Stinson-Wesley? She’s not sure, but through discernment and prayer, she’s listening to God’s call on her life, she said. But don’t count politics out.

“I have enjoyed being on the school board, once the onslaught of joining the board subsided – the incredible stress of joining the board at that time period,” Stinson-Wesley said. “And I’m really proud of us. We have accomplished so much in the past two years, with the hiring of Heath Morrison as superintendent, to the launching of the strategic plan and the whole engaging the community with the task forces, coffees and town hall meetings. I’m proud of the community input and engagement.”

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