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VOTE411 Voter Guide

School Board District 4

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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    Carol Sawyer (N) Education advocate, nonprofit consultant

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    Stephanie Sneed (N) Attorney

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    Queen Thompson (N) Retired Counselor/ Social Wiorker

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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 We must provide all CMS students an equitable and excellent education.
Current occupation Education advocate, volunteer web developer for community and nonprofit organizations.
Age 59
Campaign Phone (704) 559-9483
Twitter @sawyer4schools
YouTube video
My daughter attended CMS and is an East Meck grad.
Yes. 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.
The recent pupil assignment plan had little impact on high poverty schools in District 4. Many D4 schools suffer from community disinvestment: active, engaged parents ‘choice out’. CMS needs to provide attractive programs in D4 schools that will attract engaged parents to partner with CMS to support these schools.

The global diversity of District 4 represents both opportunities and challenges. CMS needs to fully support English language learners and provide inclusive curriculum.
The goal to reduce schools with high concentrations of poverty is essential to CMS success. The paired school strategy holds promise. CMS needs to work with communities to build buy-in. CMS needs to work with city and towns to distribute low-income housing in areas where schools have lower concentrations of poverty. CMS should work with housing agencies to build housing on CMS surplus property. This housing must be affordable for all staff: teachers, secretaries, and custodians.
There is strong evidence that high quality pre-k prepares children for success in school. Current funding does not cover all children eligible for Bright Beginnings and NC Pre-K. I support local/state funding for universal pre-k.
There is no “silver bullet” program that has proven successful in schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty. Data from Project LIFT have shown little impact on achievement compared to non-LIFT schools. However, reintegrating schools by SES has proven effective in raising student achievement.
Children enter CMS from Somalia to El Salvador and beyond. CMS needs to remove barriers to parental involvement; increase access to Spanish for Spanish Speakers classes to help students become bi-literate; provide counseling for students recovering from trauma; and extend time for ESL services.
Charter schools take needed dollars from CMS. Charters have not proven to provide better educational outcomes than traditional public schools. Charters are more segregated than traditional public schools. Recent charter closures demonstrate the problem of a market-based approach to education.
I do not support public funds for private schools. Recipients of public funds must be fully accountable, maintain standards, and not discriminate. Private schools are unaccountable for the curriculum, student performance, and can deny admission to students based on family status, or disability.
Position/philosophy statement An investment in our children now will pay dividends to our community in the future.
Current occupation Attorney
Age 42
Campaign Phone (980) 224-0228
Twitter @Cmsneedssneed
Nine yr old daughter and 4yr old in CMS next year
Yes, it will ease some overcrowding with the building of new schools as well as allow for much needed repairs and additions. Overcrowded classrooms and failing buildings are a barrier to ensuring our students receive a superior education.
Students in District 4 are not having an equitable educational experience. An overwhelming amount are not reading at grade level, attending failing schools, and the achievement gap is widening when compared to their peers from other areas. Particularly alarming to me is that 13 out of 17 elementary schools received grade level D or below in reading the prior school year. Equity of schools and access to resources is key to closing the achievement gap.
The Board must put into place mechanisms to hold itself accountable in ensuring the achievement gap is closed and resources are equitably dedicated to address the academic deficiencies students face in the classroom through tailored instructional programs and after school opportunities. The Board must also address socioeconomic challenges children face that adversely impact them in the classroom through partnerships with community organizations, government service programs and the private sector
I support the County’s effort and the call from the Opportunity Task Force to implement a Universal Pre-K program in Mecklenburg County. The pre-kindergarten experience is an essential component for children to experience a successful and rewarding academic career.
Studies show successful outcomes for students in impoverished communities when they are provided access to resources such as after-school programs, including in the academic setting and emotional and social development as well. Programs that expose students to non-traditional teaching methods particularly those that incorporate social interest of the students also have proven results.
A combination of methods, based on proficiency and staffing, that include in and out of classroom proficiency instruction is necessary for success. Ultimately, a team approach to addressing the needs of our ELL students is required. Afterschool ELL programs are essential to ensuring ELL success.
Parents want what is best for their children and seek charter schools because of failing neighborhood schools. We must focus on effectively and equitably improving the quality of education, so parents trust that positive outcomes will occur at CMS schools. All CMS schools must be exceptional.
CMS and the Board are charged with ensuring students receive an exceptional education, diverting funds undermines this effort. The diversion negatively impacts students with socioeconomic challenges in that monies are not available for programs for these students and impairs efforts towards equity.
Position/philosophy statement We fall down, but we get up again. To do nothing is a choice. " Crazy is a choice."
Current occupation Retired
Age 71
Campaign Phone (704) 661-6568
My children are graduates of CMS schools.
I am concerned about what schools have been deemed priorities such as Briarwood School, can't wait 7 years. For years I have submitted questions to the Board on Midwood School Building. Bonds were approved over and over - told that bonds did not have to be used as voters were led to believe.
Concerned about children, schools, and communities being labeled as failing and low performing. Concerned about a three tier school system of the haves, have not, and now a new charter school district. I believe Charlotte is best served with a comprehensive school systems that provides all students with a quality education regardless of race, income and address. Concerned about the public school system, America's greatest virtue, being dismantled to serve private for profit business ventures.
The CMS student assignment plan was deliberately meant to re-segregate schools according to race and social class. High interest, quality schools with wide range appeal must be placed throughout CMS that will draw a cross-section of students to various campuses throughout the city for quality programs meant formulate a uniform work place. As a CMS employee, I was sent to look a comprehensive programs in Tampa, Fl.. Quality programs must be available to students regardless of income/address.
The government should provide parenting and child development skills to all parents through health care providers and day care providers for parents that work doing the pre-k years. Parents who do not work during the pre-K years can be coached in providing pre-K experiences to their children.
The re-segregation of schools by race, culture and social class in order to dismantle public education can be met with comprehensive school programs that teach all students "how to build a better mouse trap." We know enough and there is the technology to support comprehensive programs that can provide all children with the joy of learning, exploring his environment and being capable of achieving.
In the military, in courts, Dept. of Soc. Serv.& other agencies have always dealt with ESL, this is nothing new. I recommend we follow the law and provide support services and some accommodations for children who learn languages very quickly. This seems to be a local issue.
One of the pluses of a well managed charter school is that it provides a smaller setting where some children can develop a personal identity and thrive. Minuses of charter schools, are the private for profit charter school management companies, inside trading and racketeering. Not enough oversight.
I believe public funds should be considered when a child's unique educational needs cannot be served in a public school setting. At some point I believe all children should receive some main streaming educational support for personal integration into the workplace and community. logo


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