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Politics

The new CMS board: A political shift?

http://66.225.205.104/SO20091104.mp3

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board is in for a major change with some new blood coming in to fill the shoes of two-term and three-term veterans. WFAE's Simone Orendian has more: The school board is technically a non-partisan body. Still, party affiliations can color board decisions especially when it comes to student assignment and the budget. And these two are high on the list of issues the new board will tackle once they take office. For years, Democrats have held a majority on the nine-member board. Now, the majority could swing depending on the issue. The five newly elected members help form a total of two independents, three Republicans and four Democrats. Board Chair Molly Griffin didn't run for reelection. She says her replacement will need to build consensus from the start. "I would advise them to reach out pretty quickly to every board member and to keep the lines of communication as open as possible. I do think this is going to be a particularly challenging year," says Griffin. Challenging, she says, because there will be so many new board members to work with. Plus, Griffin says the newbies have their work cut out for them. She says for an experienced board member 15 hours a week is about the average time to put into serving and for newcomers, it's really more like a fulltime job. On top of the work, the new members have to contend with a board that's often been called divisive and dysfunctional. Member-elect Eric Davis says now it's time to change that. "I think what our community really wants is a group of citizens that can bring their differences to the table and recognize those differences are strengths but not let them inhibit us from finding the solutions that we need to make CMS even better," he says. It's a lofty goal for any school board, where deep division and passionately sticking to your views are the norm. CMS Board election reporter Q and A