Should Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools offer boarding-school magnets? Should county commissioners use extra money to boost services or cut taxes?
Those are among new real-life referendum questions on the student ballot in Mecklenburg County, as the youth civics group GenerationNation strives to give students a better look at local decision-making.
For 20 years, Mecklenburg students have had a chance to weigh in with Kids Voting mock elections. In past years, adult organizers have come up with their own referendum questions.
This year, the group asked local officials to pose questions. Executive Director Amy Farrell said officials were glad to do so. Last year about 75,000 students filled in Kids Voting ballots, she said.
This will be a big sample, she said. The officials wanted feedback.
The county submitted one question, asking students to imagine they are county leaders who find themselves with extra money while planning next years budget. They can choose from four options: Spend it on people in need, such as health care and social services; spend it on community benefits, such as parks and libraries; save it for the future; or use it to cut taxes.
The city of Charlotte asked students to weigh in on a possible city-county merger.
Superintendent Heath Morrison, who started July 1 and plans to release his plan for CMS later this month, submitted three questions that provide an intriguing glimpse of what hes pondering.
One asks which new career/technology program theyd like to see: Automotive, cosmetology, construction, culinary or horticulture?
One asks what they need to learn better: Technology, guest speakers, real-world problem-solving opportunities or partnerships with other classrooms around the world?
And one asks about new magnet options: Museum, health/wellness, teaching, broadcast/communications, leadership or residential?
Farrell said she was puzzled by what a residential magnet would be, and CMS staff told her its one where middle or high school students live on campus. Students have also been surprised by the concept, she said.
Students have already been voting in schools. Tuesday is the final polling day, with ballots available online and at some polling places. Get details at http://generationnation.org.