New faces coming to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Three new Charlotte-Mecklenburg School board members will join the nine-member school board in December.

Six seats were up for grabs during Tuesday night's election. Three school board members decided not to run for re-election, making room for three new faces.

In District Four, Carol Sawyer will replace outgoing board member Tom Tate. Sawyer wants to focus on making schools in her area more diverse. She thinks that effort will make a difference.

"The research shows clearly that schools that are socioeconomically diverse narrow the achievement gap," Sawyer said.

Sawyer also says a challenge in her district is there are many high poverty schools.  She wants families in well-to-do neighborhoods to consider schools in District Four.

"Encourage other families to reinvest in the schools in District Four," Sawyer said.

Sawyer says her constituents can expect regular meetings with her so they won't be kept in the dark about what's going on in the district.

"To work effectively with my fellow board members to get things done," Sawyer said.  "As well as working effectively with the County Commission and the City Council because it's going to take an involvement of all municipal members to build a school system that is able to educate every child."

In District Five, Margaret Marshall replaces outgoing school board member Eric Davis. Marshall says her experience makes her qualified. She says she wants to focus on getting early childhood education for kids in need.

"Everything we can do to make sure that children are ready for kindergarten is time well spent." Marshall said.

Marshall's idea to accomplish academic achievement is to make sure schools are offering students all options to succeed.  Some students may go to college, others might take up a trade.  Marshall believes schools need to do a better job serving all students.

"Teachers and principals are going to work on some training," Marshall said. "To make sure that we give students the ability to recognize their strengths and to play to their strengths."

Marshall wants voters to know what type of school board member she will be.

"I am not going to be reactive," she said. "A very reasonable, thoughtful person that is going to be listening to all sides of an issue. I am not going to be very reactive."

In District Six, Sean Strain takes over for outgoing school board member Paul Bailey. Strain says he wants to focus on overcrowding issues in his area and also establish more magnet schools. He says parents are screaming for more magnet options.

"Particularly in the south, who have to travel great distances in order to realize those magnet opportunities," Strain said.

Strain also believes more support is needed for students who are battling mental illness. He also says to tackle academic achievement, school curriculums must change because all students don't learn the same.

"To make sure that we are meeting kids as they enter, and enabling them to fly as high as possible," Strain said.

Strain wants people in his district to know that he is serious about bringing change to the district.

"Transparency and a focus on our mission," Strain said. "Our mission as a board and as a system is to maximize student achievement."

Three school board incumbents also won their races in Tuesday night's school board election. Rhonda Lennon returns as District One School Board member, so does Thelma Byers-Bailey in District Two and Dr. Ruby Jones returns to the board to represent District Three.

The new board will be sworn in in December and will serve four years.

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