Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board races were fairly quiet this season, but discontent in one economically struggling district pushed an incumbent out of his seat Tuesday. Richard McElrath, serving his first term, was ousted and long-time community activist Thelma Byers-Bailey was elected in District 2.
School closings and other CMS policy changes have brought a lot of upheaval to District 2 in southwest Charlotte in recent years. No doubt some of that played into McElraths defeat as well as complaints that he was not accessible or responsive enough to constituents.
Byers-Bailey, a retired lawyer, comes with good credentials from her community work. She will be joined as a newcomer on the board by Paul Bailey. Long-time politician Bailey, the Matthews mayor pro tem, defeated Bolyn McClung and Doug Wrona for the District 6 seat where no incumbent was running.
In the other four districts, incumbents won the day. One, Joyce Waddell in District 3, was unopposed. Returning to their seats were Rhonda Lennon in District 1, Tom Tate in District 4 and Eric Davis in District 5. Voters chose wisely in those three contested races. All had a better grasp of the challenges facing CMS and what is needed to tackle them. They all also have demonstrated that they can work productively and collegially together to meet those needs, even though they hold differing political views.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg residents should expect that same demeanor and diligence from its two new members. With the schools getting insufficient resources from the state to pay teachers the salaries they deserve, and to provide students all the materials and supports they need, school board members must work in concert to find ways to fill those voids.
Unlike in previous elections, this board wasnt broken. In fact, the current nine members (three at-large members did not face election this year) have earned praise for their collaborative approach to tackling problems and their united stand in pushing for resources and strategies to help every CMS student reach his or her academic potential.
These are the kind of school board members this community and our children need. Both Byers-Bailey and Bailey come with the intelligence and people skills that can help them become assets to the board. They and others re-elected Tuesday must join hands with the others on the board and focus squarely on making CMS the best school system it can be and ensuring that all of its more than 140,000 students get what they need to become successful in school and productive citizens after they leave.
Wise votes to OK CMS, CPCC bonds
Voters wisely easily approved bond packages for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and for Central Piedmont Community College. The $290 million package for CMS is for 17 projects. The $210 million CPCC package will help the college expand across the county and increase science and technology space thats critical to train students for jobs in emerging industries. It wasnt a big enough package for CMS to meet the needs of this community. But the approvals are moves in the right direction.
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