CHARLOTTE – Elyse Dashew is plugged in. In recent days, she assured listeners on WFAE’s “Charlotte Talks” radio show that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is moving forward following Superintendent Clayton Wilcox’s departure, congratulated graduates at summer commencement and traveled to Harvard University for four days of intense school board training.
“Serving on the school board is the hardest job I’ve ever had and the most impactful work I’ve ever been blessed to do,” Dashew said. “We’ve made great strides on some important initiatives, and there is so much more work to do.”
She is running for reelection this fall in a crowded field of 13 candidates.
The school board consists of nine members, including three at-large members with expiring terms in 2019.
Mary McCray and Ericka Ellis-Stewart, who have both served since 2011, are not running again, ensuring at least two new representatives join the board.
Dashew said the school board needs stability and consistency as members try to carry out the 2024 Strategic Plan.
The plan has three goals. Every student graduates with meaningful employment or high education opportunities, as well as has access to a rich, diverse and rigorous curriculum and more social and emotional support.
She didn’t take the 2017 election cycle off, as she campaigned in favor of $922 million in bonds to build and repair schools. Voters approved the bonds, which will support 29 construction and renovation projects, including a 125-classroom high school in 2023 to relieve South Meck, Ardrey Kell Myers Park and Olympic.
Another project, a K-8 magnet school scheduled to open in 2023 within Rea Farms, generated concern among parents worried it would have fewer academic, athletic and extra-curricular offerings than a traditional school.
Sean Strain, who represents the area on the school board, supported a full magnet school at Rea Farms, but the other eight members voted in June to make it a partial magnet, with 70% of the seats based on home school attendance.
Dashew attended community engagement sessions and read through hundreds of emails about the project. Dashew voted on what she thought was best for the district.
“Whatever we decide will have trade-offs that we really got to think through all the cascading effects,” she said in April. “I, as an at-large representative, am thinking about the cascading effects all over the county and also fairness all over the county. That’s what is in my heart.”
Dashew said she has dedicated herself to opening up policy-making to learn from students, teachers, families and community partners. She’s also worked on building relationships with the county.
“I have devoted my energy to improving the school board’s relationship with our county funders, so that together we can make sure our students have the resources they need to succeed,” she said. “Thanks to this partnership, the teachers of CMS are about to be the highest-paid in North Carolina.”
Dashew wants to continue the school board’s work in making the district’s curriculum more “rigorous, engaging, relevant and consistent.” She also wants to carry out initiatives related to increased safety and social-emotional health.
“We have tremendous work to do in terms of equity in our schools, and we are poised to do it,” she said.
On the web: www.elysedashew.com