Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board: Amelia Stinson-Wesley on the issues

Name: Amelia Stinson-Wesley

Hometown: High Point

Neighborhood: Pineville

Family: married, two children

CMS connections: two children in CMS. former District 6 Rep on the School Board. member of two PTAs, one SLT, current parent rep on the CMS Student Health Advisory Committee.

Education: BA, Meredith College and M. Div, Duke University

Occupation: clergy; pastor.

Political experience: Served on the CMS School Board for two years.

Community service: Currently serve on the Planning & Zoning Board in Pineville as well as the Pineville Parks & Rec Advisory Board; member of the James K Polk Historic Site Board. former School Board Liaison to the Meck County Domestic Violence Advisory Board, former member of the Meck County Child Fatality Review Team.

Party affiliation: Democrat

Campaign contact info: www.ameliastinsonwesley.com; amelia@ameliastinsonwesley.com, on Facebook; on Twitter

Why are you running for school board?

I believe that every child deserves a solid education, and I will be an advocate for all children. The CMS Board of Education is facing difficult decisions and hard conversations in the coming months. I believe I have the necessary and needed experience to participate in those discussions, to guide and influence those conversations while continuing to listen to the concerns and ideas of people across all segments of our community.

What are your top priorities for the district?

Hiring a Superintendent who will bring vision to the district and focus on increasing student achievement.

Funding literacy programs, ensuring that all children are reading on grade level by Grade 3.

Creating a deep and stable teacher pipeline, especially given the loss of the Teaching Fellows Program. CMS can and should create its own pipeline of teachers through partnerships with area colleges and universities.

Addressing the growing resegregation of our schools and the high concentrations of poverty in schools in our community.

Partnering with the county commission on a realistic and fully funded capital needs program for our school system.

What are your thoughts on hiring a superintendent?

We need a Superintendent who will focus on increasing student achievement. The Superintendent should also be well versed in the decisions made by the NC General Assembly and the impact those decisions have on CMS, our students and the budget.

What are your goals for student assignment?

Student Assignment must provide a way for all children’s needs to be met. Any student assignment plan must include input from all stakeholders in the community, especially parents and teachers.

We must address the trend towards re-segregation of our schools, paying particular attention to the high concentrations of poverty within our school system, which indeed reflect those within our county. This complex issue cannot fully be addressed by the School Board alone but must include the City Council, the County Commission as well as other local advocacy groups.

We must also continue to strengthen our home schools and offer choices to our parents and students. Parents should be confident in the choices they have for their children, and students should be proud of the school they attend and challenged every day to learn.

As we look at student assignment we cannot take our eyes off student achievement, our ultimate priority for all students in the district. Our school district is improving student achievement every year, and we need to sustain those efforts.

What should CMS do to address persistently low performance by large numbers of students at many schools?

We should continue to provide the resources needed at the school level to address the achievement gap. We must concentrate on identifying individual problems and put resources towards them whether that be through reading camps or smaller classrooms through weighted student classes. We must also support new and innovative programs that emphasize student achievement. We should continue to partner with organizations that provide wrap around services with a particular focus on literacy.

What should CMS do to attract, motivate and keep strong teachers?

The Opportunity Culture that CMS uses is helpful in retaining effective teachers, giving teachers a chance to be involved in the district beyond their work in the classroom. We should continue to expand our efforts to recruit a teacher population that reflects the diversity of the student population.

What is the district's biggest challenge, and how would you address it?

From adequate teacher pay to funding initiatives that will increase literacy and close the achievement gap to meeting the deferred maintenance needs of our buildings, funding continues to be the biggest challenge facing our school district. It will take more cooperation between LEAs, county commissions and the General Assembly to get our schools to the level of funding that we need across our state. I will be an advocate for CMS through the existing relationships I have with members of the NC General Assembly and the County Commission to be a voice for securing those funds for our students, our teachers, our school district as a whole.

What is the best thing about CMS?

The quality of the education students receive and the dedication of our teachers and staff. CMS is continually recognized across the country as an exemplary urban school district. Many school systems look to CMS for best practices in education.

What else should voters know about you?

I am a passionate and tireless advocate. I will work diligently to make sure that every child receives the best education possible.