2022 CMS District 4: Stephanie Sneed
Involvement with the school district (employment, kids in the system, volunteer, appointed or elected roles):
CMS Parent, CMS Volunteer, PTA member, CMS Bond Oversight Committee member
Immediate Past Chairperson Black Political Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg, Prior Precinct Vice-Chair, Prior Candidate
Education and/or political advocacy groups you’re affiliated with:
Founding Member and Project Lead of Charlotte Community Think Tank (formerly known as Westside & Eastside Education Think Tank and Thomasboro Foundation); Black Political Caucus of Charlotte Mecklenburg(Chairperson and Education Committee Member)
Other relevant experience:
I currently work as a trial attorney practicing in the areas of labor and employment law. I have worked for all levels of public/private entities serving in various roles, which have included but is not limited to attorney and environmental planner. As a trial attorney representing the state, I was an advocate for children that had been subjected to educational neglect and physical and mental abuse, in order to ensure their health, safety and welfare. As an environmental planner for a regional governmental authority, I was instrumental in coordinating numerous governmental entities, throughout a vast metropolitan region, with implementation of coordinated environmental programs.
I served as the Chairperson of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, one of the largest nonpartisan political organizations in the state of North Carolina where I led the organization in its efforts to address wide-ranging legislative matters on federal, state and local levels through position statements, establishing legislative agenda, communications with elected officials, community forums and videocast. These efforts have included specific measures to address student outcomes in our schools. I led a robust get out the vote program that included voter registration, canvassing, phone banking, radio and social media campaigns. These efforts also included key community partnerships that included high school students and grassroots organizations.
I was appointed to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Bond Oversight Committee. I served on the Black Political Caucus Education Committee. As a project lead for Charlotte Community Think Tank (formerly the Westside Education Think Tank and Eastside Education Think Tank), which is committed to raising awareness and offering solutions to issues in the education arena that includes not only schools but parent advocates, community, and non-profit partnerships. While working with these organizations I led efforts pertaining to creating parent advocates; created a parent hotline to address issues parents and students were facing during pandemic school closures; and established a partnership with a non-profit and private company that resulted in the hiring of high school students for skilled trade jobs immediately upon graduation.
On many occasions I have addressed the Board of Education and met with CMS leadership/Board. I have participated as volunteer, moderator and panelists for countless community forums, events and service projects on a wide-range of topics important to the community.
I initiated a voter registration campaign that went viral and was recognized in the national media. I also served as the Vice-Chair of her voting precinct. As a twenty-plus year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service organization, I have engaged in countless public service programs, many of which focused on underserved children and political awareness. As a member of Jack and Jill, Inc. and a Girl Scout leader, I have been committed to helping develop youth into future leaders.
What actions should the school board take to improve outcomes for students and schools that are performing below expectations?
The Board must set aggressive, measurable and equitable goals that includes equity and closing achievement gaps to ensure all students are college or career ready. The Board must set aggressive standards and goals for the Superintendent that coincide with the Board's goals especially noting, student achievement, closing achievement gaps, equity, support for student teacher/staff, access to mental health, and collaboration with other governmental entities, parents and community stakeholders. The Board must be able to specifically identify, explain and approve a budget that will support the Board's goals and desired student outcomes. Finally, the Board must be transparent and accountable to the community for which it serves.
What are the district’s most significant funding needs, and what should the board do to meet them?
The most significant funding must be to: 1) student achievement, including but not limited to specific monies for closing achievement gaps and recovering for COVID learning losses, improving high school endorsement for students; 2) support for teachers and staff, including but not limited to teacher supplement, monies for support staff (i.e. teacher assistant, reading specialist) teacher retention/recruitment, professional development; 3) increase access for mental health support for students and families (social workers, and psychologist) and 4) Investment to support programs for community partner programs.
How would you rate current leadership of the district (board and superintendent)? What changes would you propose?
The Board and CMS has much work to do! This will always be my answer until every student graduates CMS college or career ready. This is currently not the case.
(1) The Board must be comprised of: members that are trusted leaders; have genuine connections to the community that the Board serves; have experience in administration and human resources for large organizations; grass roots experience with parents and community stakeholders; children recently in CMS; and has relationships with government, community and corporate leaders.
(2) The Board must set aggressive, measurable and equitable goals that will produce college or career readiness outcomes that includes equity, closing achievement gaps. The Board must set goals for a broader range of students, beyond 3rd grade reading. For example, there are a population of students particularly those that are currently in 4th and 5th grade who will not have the opportunity for fundamental reading instruction once they enter high school. We know that these students were particularly impacted by loss of learning opportunities in COVID. These students cannot be left behind.
(3) The Board must set aggressive standards and goals for the Superintendent that coincide with the Board's goals especially noting, student achievement, closing achievement gaps, equity, support for student teacher/staff, access to mental health, and collaboration with other governmental entities, parents and community stakeholders.
(4) The Board must be able to specifically identify, explain and approve a budget that will support the Board's goals and desired student outcomes.
(5) The Board must keep applying pressure in Raleigh and educating the public regarding the General Assembly's role in education. (Leandro funding; teaching funding, etc.)
What should the board do to improve safety for students and employees?
The Board must make sure that there is adequate funding associated with (1) facilities, ensuring that the buildings are physically secure; (2) mental health funding — ensuring appropriate funding for school counselors and psychologists; (3) training for teachers, administrators and staff — ensuring appropriate funding is associated with training to recognize children who may need mental health support; (4) collaboration — ensuring Board/CMS partnership with the City's violence disrupter program, community organizations in order to be aware of and engage in collaborative violence prevention methods to lessen issues with community problems that enter schools; and (5) input — seek input from students, teachers/staff and community regarding the best ways they believe improvements can be to ensure a safe school.
Are there additional issues, themes or characteristics that you see as central in your campaign?
It is essential that the Board have a focus on student achievement, support for teachers and staff; access to mental health; and collaboration with other governmental entities, parents, corporate and community stakeholders. The Board must also be transparent and accountable to the community. This is a particularly significant time for the Board because there must be a laser focus on student achievement; a transformative, qualified long-term Superintendent must be hired; and it's time for the community to trust the Board and CMS again. This will require new leadership.