Education

Student on CMS board? ‘The voice is needed soon,’ teen says

A student voice on the CMS school board?

A high school senior shares ideas on adding students to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.
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A high school senior shares ideas on adding students to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board hopes to add a student member soon, but members wrangled Monday over the best way to make that happen.

Teen members of Generation Nation’s Youth Council, which works to give teens a voice in civic life, attended Monday’s meeting of the school board’s policy committee to make their pitch for a student board member – or, more precisely, a rotating group of student board members.

The state constitution wouldn’t let an appointed student member vote, but the CMS board hopes to add a student adviser who would sit at the dais and participate in board discussions. The timetable has not been set.

We just hope that you all see that the voice is needed, and it’s needed soon.

Maayan Eaves, co-president of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Youth Council

Maayan Eaves, a Mallard Creek High senior who is co-president of the Youth Council, told board members that naming three or four students who could serve rotating stints would provide more perspectives and make board service more practical for teens.

She noted that student leaders are often busy with many activities. For instance, Eaves said she is involved in a fall play at her school but could serve in winter or spring.

Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Ruby Jones said they prefer the idea of one student member who could learn the complex business of running a large district and become a consistent presence on the board.

Jones called the rotation plan “a dabble concept.”

“This is tedious work,” she said. “It’s too important.”

Even adults who seek the office sometimes struggle to keep up with the stream of information and the meeting schedule. Amy Farrell, executive director of Generation Nation, told the board getting to meetings can be even tougher for teens who have jobs, care for family members or lack transportation.

“They can’t just get in their car and come to a meeting,” she said.

Board Chair Mary McCray and Vice Chair Elyse Dashew said they’re open to the idea of more than one teen adviser.

“Do we want them to give up everything in order to be able to do this?” Dashew asked.

Eaves said she’s also open to alternatives. “We just hope that you all see that the voice is needed,” she said, “and it’s needed soon.”

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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