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Could CMS have a student on the school board?

Board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart calls having student members an “an innovative way to say that we really care about what our students have to say.”
Board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart calls having student members an “an innovative way to say that we really care about what our students have to say.”

In an effort to get more input from students on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools policy, the school board could one day have a member who is still in high school.

The effort is being championed by board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart, who calls it “an innovative way to say that we really care about what our students have to say.”

She pointed to Montgomery County, Md., as a model. Since the 1970s, that school district has all of its middle and high school students elect a junior or senior to represent them on the school board for a one-year term. They’re full voting members of the board, except they don’t vote on budgets, boundary changes, school closings or firing teachers.

The CMS board’s policy committee discussed the proposal last week, and it did get some pushback.

Board member Eric Davis said he was all in favor of getting more student input but wasn’t sure having them join the school board was the best idea. He said at nine members, the school board is big enough as it is. There would also be something of a steep learning curve for students joining the board.

It would take an act of the state legislature to make a student school board member happen – and perhaps even a change to the North Carolina constitution.

At minimum, a local bill allowing CMS to do this would have to pass in Raleigh. But the state constitution defines someone being eligible for elected office as at least 21 years old.

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