In a pivotal year for the nine-member Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education, the applicant field for the open District 6 seat is small.
South Charlottean Tim Morgan shifted from the District 6 seat to one of the board's three at-large posts in last month's election, leaving his old seat vacant. The board will appoint a replacement in January.
Applications are due by 3 p.m. Jan. 2, and interviews begin Jan. 3.
When this story went to press, only three people - Larry Bumgarner of Mint Hill, Bolyn McClung of Pineville and Michael Orlando Jones of Matthews - had applied for the District 6 seat, according to CMS spokesperson Stacy Sneed.
But more are expected to apply as the deadline nears.
District 6 generally encompasses the area south of N.C. 51, from Ballantyne to Matthews and Mint Hill.
Morgan said he'd like for his District 6 successor to already know CMS well and have the time to be a quick study. He or she also should understand the challenges facing the district.
The school board's most important task over the coming year is hiring a new superintendent.
The superintendent search began when Peter Gorman resigned in June and is expected to conclude with a hiring in March.
The ninth member will be serving on the board during a period of national attention. As the winner of this year's Broad Prize for Urban Education, CMS is being watched by educators all over the country, and the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte will bring thousands of luminaries, educators and media to town.
The CMS Board of Education includes six district representatives and three at-large representatives. District and at-large representatives are elected every two years on a rotating schedule. All members serve four-year terms.
Applicants must be 21 years of age or older and a registered voter in District 6.
"What I'm looking for is somebody who understands not only the challenges of ...District 6 but also recognizes the challenges that CMS as a whole is experiencing," said Morgan. The board needs "somebody who will challenge what we're doing but also understand the importance of having positive board relations."
This new board is diverse.
For the last two years, no political party held a majority on the board, which is chosen in nonpartisan elections.
The current eight-member board has five Democrats and four African-Americans - a stronger black presence than the board has had since 2003.
African-Americans are the largest group among CMS students. Whites make up just under one-third of students.
Morgan recommends that anyone waffling over applying call him or other board members to get a better understanding of the commitment and expectations.
Morgan says he spends 15 to 25 hours a week on his board duties.
The board members' phone numbers and email addresses are available on the Board of Education website: www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe.