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17 Candidates File For 3 CMS School Board Seats

The Charlotte Mecklenburg School board has some changes in store. All three at-large members will be stepping down at the end of this year, including Kaye McGarry. She made that announcement today. Seventeen people are now running for those three positions. The new board will have some big decisions to make. It must pick a new superintendent and decide how to proceed on a controversial plan to tie teacher pay to students test scores. Scott Babbidge Works for an education software company. He says there's too much testing at CMS. Larry Bumgarner Frequent CMS critic, who wants to deconsolidate CMS. www.deconsolidate.com Maria Collias Retired CMS teacher and counselor. Elyse Dashew Co-founder of MeckFuture, a group that pushed for more CMS funding. CMS parent. www.Dashewforschoolboard.com Tom Davis Retired Air Force strategic planner, served on Gov. Jim Martin's School Building Solutions Committee Ericka Ellis-Stewart Co-founder of Active in MeckFuture, a group that pushed for more CMS funding. Harding High parent who spoke out against closing Waddell and combining it with Harding. www.ericka4cmsboard.com Lisa Hundley Keith Hurley Mortgage lender, CMS parent. Formed group to help maintain Beverly Woods Elementary grounds. Wants more "stable" district. Mary McCray Former President of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators www.marymccrayforschoolboard.webs.com DeShaunaMcLamb CMS parent, NAACP member. Critic of school closings. Tim Morgan Current school board member who represents district 6 in South Charlotte. www.morganforschoolboard.net KenNelson Business analyst, CMS parent, treasure for NC Republican Liberty Caucus. Likes idea of of Pay for Performance, but doesn't agree with the testing. Hans Plotseneder CMS teacher, critic of district's current Pay for Performance plan www.drplots.com AaronPomis Administrator at KIPP Charlotte. Wants CMS teachers and principals to have more flexibility. www.aaronpomis.com Darrin Rankin CMS parent, owns insurance agency. Thinks former Superintendent Peter Gorman did good job, but says Pay for Performance relies too much on standardized tests. www.rankinforcms.com Lloyd Scher Former Mecklenburg County Commissioner, wants stronger school board oversight of superintendent. Doesn't want so much testing. Jeff Wise www.votejeffwise.com WFAE's Lisa Miller is in the studio with Mark Rumsey to talk about the race. MR: Seventeen candidates is a lot for just 3 at-large board seats. Why do you think so many people are interested in this race? LM: I spoke with most of the candidates and many of them said they were fed up with how things have been going at CMS this year. Some of that frustration is with the district closing eleven schools. Several candidates said they didn't like all the new tests CMS is forcing students to take. You'll remember those are the tests the district wants to use to base teacher pay on, through Gorman's controversial Pay for Performance plan. And a few said they didn't like how CMS dealt with the budget situationthat the district should've lobbied harder for more state money and that they shouldn't have asked the county for an extra $55 million when $26 million would prevent layoffs. MR: On this list of 17 candidates who are some of the more notable names? LM: Two of them Elyse Dashew and Ericka Ellis Stewart founded a group called MeckFuture to push for more funding for CMS. There's Mary McCray, the former head of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Teachers Association. Aaron Pomis, an administrator at KIPP charter school here. Larry Bumgarner, a frequent CMS critic who wants to deconsolidate the district. And then there's former County Commissioner Lloyd Sure and current school board member Tim Morgan who represents district 6 in South Charlotte. Of course, unlike the others, he has a CMS voting record and he's supported several of Gorman's controversial plans like Pay for Performance. MR: And you mentioned one candidate with a charter school background what might be the motivation there for getting on the CMS board? LM: I talked briefly to Mr. Pomis. He says he wants CMS teachers and principals to have some of the freedom and flexibility that charter schools have. MR: And, of course, CMS is going to be looking for a new superintendent. What do the candidates say about that task? LM: The thing that almost all of them say is they want someone who can bring the community together. Between school closings and parents and teachers upset over testing and Pay for Performance, there's been a lot of disruption. The candidates say those differences need to be bridged. Several of them also say they want someone who's willing to stick around for more than five years. MR: What about the Pay for Performance plan that former Superintendent Peter Gorman proposed and started to initiate. Is this election do you think going to be seen as a referendum on that because the school board certainly has the power to change direction both through its policies and the choice of a new superintendent. LM: You're right. This school board isn't solidly behind Pay for Performance. And two of its staunchest supporters, Trent Merchant and Joe White are stepping down. Now, no candidate that I spoke with was outright enthusiastic about the district's version of Pay for Performance. Several of them said they liked the idea of it, but didn't agree with all the extra testing.which is a huge component of Pay for Performance. Some candidates were willing to continue to implement Pay for Performance, but wanted to make sure teachers and parents had more of a say in it. MR: Thank you, Lisa. LM: Thank you. Correction: Ericka Ellis-Stewart did not co-found MeckFuture, but is active in the organization.