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by Jordan Green

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School board candidates address CHANGE agenda

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board candidates staked out their positions on three education issues being advanced by Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment, or CHANGE, during the group’s fall assembly Sunday at United Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. CHANGE is seeking support for its agenda of increasing family and community engagement in schools, reducing dropout rates by ending short-term out of school suspension, and exploring alternatives to the current student assignment plan. At-large candidates Nancy Sherrill, Robert Barr and Elisabeth Motsinger said they support increased family engagement and increasing diversity by looking at alternatives to the “school choice” plan.

Motsinger does not support CHANGE’s initiative on out-of-school suspension, while Barr is “unclear” on the issue.

District 1 candidates Chenita Johnson and Jimmie Lee Bonham said they support all three CHANGE initiatives, while District 2 candidates Donald Dunn, Stacey Walker McElveen, Carla B. Farmer, Jim Toole, Marilyn Parker and Jill Tackaberry are split on the issues. Dunn and McElveen support all three initiatives, while Toole does not support the elimination of short-term out of school suspension, and Parker and Tackaberry said they do not support exploring alternatives to the school choice plan. “CHANGE believes that diversity is not our problem; it’s our strength,” Joan Celestino, a former teacher, said. “This is not about race. It’s about academic achievement.”

The school system ranks 18 th lowest out of the 20 biggest school districts in the state in test scores, and the school system’s elementary schools have the highest segregation of any school system in the state, Celestino said.

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