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CMS School Board Forum Gets Interactive

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Twelve Charlotte Mecklenburg school board candidates will take the stage tonight in a forum hosted by the non-profit MeckEd and WFAE. It's not clear what topics exactly they'll be quizzed about since that's up to audience members who will vote on cell phones, tablets and laptops.

There's likely to be a lot of people playing with their cell phones at tonight's forum and that's exactly what MeckEd's Julie Sheffer wants. "We have technology that allows folks to vote via text message, Twitter, or by opening a browser on their phone," says Sheffer. Audience members and those watching the streaming broadcast on CLT Blog will decide which of four topics the candidates will address.

The choices are resources for schools, how to evaluate effective teachers, narrowing the achievement gap and assessing student learning. People who signed up have already begun ranking topics and suggesting questions using Google moderator.

WFAE's Mike Collins is moderating the event, but Sheffer says the audience will be the real voice behind the questions. "It's not Mike up there deciding what questions he thinks people want to hear," says Sheffer. "It's actually the audience members saying this is what we want to hear about first and then we'd like to hear about this."

Thirteen candidates are running for three at-large seats. Twelve of them plan to attend the forum. They'll be split into two groups. Audience members will vote on which topic the first group discusses and then take another vote on which of the remaining topics the second group addresses. The audience will also be able to vote on questions and suggest their own, even those without cell phones. Pencils and paper will still be provided. The forum begins at 7:00 tonight in the Overcash Building at CPCC's main campus.