There will be plenty for Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board members to discuss at their board retreat Friday and Saturday. But we hope they will give some attention to working on their relationships with each other.
Tension oozed at last week's first meeting with all nine on board following the Democratic majority's appointment of Democrat Amelia Stinson-Wesley to represent predominantly Republican District 6. That was an unnecessary and unwise partisan move, given that some Republican applicants were at least as qualified as Wesley.
That said, the deed is done. The board members owe this community a real effort at working together to tackle the challenges CMS faces. Board members were able to do so in 2008 after Republicans tapped a Republican replacement for a predominantly Democratic district. They can this time, too.
But it will take board members engaging in less of the angling that took place last week when some tried to shape administrators' comments into favorable assessments of past board actions. Such prodding appeared manipulative.
Clearly, some members have concerns the new board majority might upend prior actions or current policies such as pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade schools, testing and pay-for-performance strategies for teachers. These have been controversial issues, and many in the public want the board to give them some more time and attention.
But no matter what their ideology or party affiliation, all board members should commit to assessing these issues using facts and data, not ideology or preconceptions. And they should understand this: Many in this community will assess their performance, not with an ideological barometer, but by how well they've fulfilled their most important duties - to provide each child access to a quality education and a chance to reach their educational potential.
To that end, they must find a way to work together on these vital goals: hiring a visionary school superintendent who can dramatically boost student performance, help and encourage educators, and inspire the rest of this community to provide the resources to meet student needs; and finding strategies and resources that will lure and keep a highly effective teaching and administrative staff.
Doing both those things adequately will involve a great deal of attention to the system's budget, especially with the economy still lagging. Already, they've begun budget discussions that will be further hashed out during this weekend's retreat.
But the best outcomes will come only from teamwork. The lingering divide that was apparent last week will be counterproductive to doing what's necessary to give this community's children what they need to succeed.
We're counting on board chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart to set the tone - valuing everyone's input and working to bridge differences to find common ground. Former chair Eric Davis was able to.
But we're also relying on all members to remember why they were hired. Voters elected them to lead this community in meeting the education needs of its children and laying the foundation for them to become productive citizens.
We know they can do so. But those who prefer infighting to fulfilling that commitment should look for a pink slip when their term expires.