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School Board District 6

The nine-member Board of Education is the governing body of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, with five primary responsibilities: 1. Employ the superintendent 2. Establish policy 3. Determine annual operating and capital budgets 4. Approve student assignment boundaries 5. Oversee the management of the school district’s major systems, including budget and finance, curriculum and instruction, personnel and auxiliary servicesThe CMS Board of Education includes six district representatives and three at-large representatives. District and at-large representatives are elected every two years on a rotating schedule. All members serve four-year terms.
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    Allen Smith (N) Technologist

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    Sean Strain (N) Business Consultant

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Biographical Information

Do you have, or have you had in the past, children in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system?

Do you support the school bond referendum on the ballot this election? Why or why not?

Are there any problems specific to your district that you want to address if elected? Please explain.

Please reflect on the goals of the student assignment plan to reduce concentrations of poverty and suggest what cooperative actions you would like to see the Board champion to further advance the goals.

How important do you feel the pre-kindergarten experience is, and what role does (or should) local government play?

Our neighborhoods and schools are largely segregated by race and socioeconomic status. Do schools with high concentrations of poverty need additional programs to help students succeed? If so, can you suggest programs that have evidence of success?

English Language Learners (ESLs) are now a significant percentage of the school population and also a high percentage of the drop-outs. What programs would you recommend to support those students as they are enrolled and as they progress through the system?

What do you see as the pluses and minuses of charter schools?

Why should or shouldn't public funds go to private schools?

Position/philosophy statement Let's work together to build a community of schools as exceptional as the students within them.
Current occupation I work for a tech company whose mission is to help people solve problems by working together.
Age 34
Campaign Phone (469) 595-1023
No. My two daughters are both too young right now.
Yes. I believe it's important to continue investing in our public schools, many of which have very urgent needs. I acknowledge that the process for selecting capital projects for the bond was not designed or conducted with equity in mind, and that is something I would like to help change.
It's a problem that pervades our entire community, but in my district specifically, I would love to help bring new voices into conversations and help amplify the concerns of community members who often go unheard due to noise from more vocal groups.
I agree that we should be using student assignment to reduce concentrations of poverty. I've proposed a two-part plan for addressing concentrations of poverty. In the short term, we should expand magnet programs equitably, with additional support to students who need these programs most. Long-term, we should consider shifting to a more sustainable assignment model, such as controlled choice, to keep our system healthy and to decouple schools from the volatility of the real estate industry.
Studies show there are fewer more impactful measures to help students succeed than early-childhood education. I believe every child should have the opportunity to attend high-quality pre-K, and I believe it is our responsibility as a community to provide it to those who can't afford it.
The research I have read suggests that, whether the district relies on targeted turnaround programs or desegregation, the biggest gains come from creating a culture of opportunity and success in every school. I don't doubt the efficacy of some turnaround programs, but I believe spot-treating schools is not the same thing as providing equal opportunity to everyone.
I would recommend continuing many of the programs CMS currently offers, such as ESL, sheltered instruction, and two-way immersion. I would also support measures that help expand these programs to provide additional support to students who need it as they progress through the system.
Charter schools have a unique opportunity to improve schools for everyone by removing administrative barriers, encouraging pedagogical innovation, and fostering cross-pollination with traditional schools. These things don't always happen, and low-performing charters have a big destabilizing effect.
I believe we should make sure public funds only go to private schools when there is a clear need that the public school system cannot meet for a student. Generally speaking, I don't believe we should be siphoning money away from public schools into religious schools.
Position/philosophy statement Per the CMS Mission, I am committed to academic achievement of every student, in every school.
Current occupation Client Executive
Age 45
Campaign email sean@seanstrain.com
Twitter @Strain4BoE
I have 4 lovely children in CMS: 8th/8th/3rd/1st
Yes. After spending nearly $200M/yr of capital investment in our schools leading up to the financial crisis of 2008/9+, we had to lean the budget as with a number of other programs. The Capital Needs Assessment called for a return to these levels in order to provide adequate facilities for our kids.
District 6 has some very high performance students, and schools, and others that struggle. Many of our schools are severly overcrowded, we have students that are underperforming relative to their peers, our D6 students are at a severe disadvantage when applying to magnet schools, and we have a growing issue of mental health in our schools. I look forward to bringing the resources necessary to sustain and improve D6 schools, and working with other gov & non-gov entities to address challenges.
Reducing concentrations of poverty was one of the 5 goals set forth by the Board of Education, which they failed to prioritize but asked the community to do so a number of times. The community spoke loudly and want a quality education available to every student in every community, which is the direction I intend to champion. Given my work with United Voices for Education and the Thomasboro Foundation, our call to action is for the schools *and* the community to better support, empower our kids.
Some of our students show up at K able to read Harry Potter. Others have not yet sat in a classroom or held a book, let alone know the alphabet, colors, etc. Each of these example children were born with the same opportunities and eagerness to learn and grow. We must tackle the 0-5 educational gap.
We have strong examples of turnaround programs within CMS, including but certainly not limited to Shamrock Gardens and Huntingtowne Farms. Examples of strong, innovative collaboration to improve educational outcomes can be seen in districts like Jennings, MO, where schools and the community rallied to improve proficiency from 57% to 81%, and 92% four-year graduation rate -- in just 3 years.
Transiency is a big issue with the ESL population that we are not going to be able to change or influence in the school system. We must, for this community and every community and in fact student, meet them where they are and encourage, grow them to reach their full potential.
Charter Schools have an advantage over "traditional public schools" in that they are not subjected to all of the same constraints and restrictions on educational approach and curriculum. This ability to tailor the programming to the student body's needs is critical to success.
The public school system is the foundation of the American Dream. Providing a sound, quality education for each of our citizens, empowering them to reach their highest potential and earn the opportunity to live their dreams is what public education is all about. I support and advocate family choice.

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