As schools in Huntersville and the rest of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools recover from a stagnant recession, a new Huntersville committee looks to help the local community meet the area’s education needs.

The Community of Huntersville Education Collaborative, a committee commissioned by the Huntersville Town Board, held its first meeting Sept. 26. Committee members say they want to bring volunteers from local businesses and nonprofits into Huntersville’s schools.

CHEC replaced the Town of Huntersville’s School Advisory Committee.

“There are so many businesses out there who want to help with our schools, but they don’t know how or where to go,” Carrie Kester, the committee’s chairwoman, said.

CHEC includes 14 members from the school, business and nonprofit communities. Commissioner Melinda Bales and Mayor Jill Swain will serve as ex-officio members from the town board.

Committee members also include Monique Spittel, Brooke Faw,  John Ballas, Terri Bennett, Phil Carey, Raquel Crespo, David Dworak, Alethia Foster, Inge Garrison, Steve Gilbert, Jerry Hunter, Andrea Peskin and Bob Rosso.

The collaborative is not authorized by the town to spend or raise money. Town leaders plan to phase out the town’s oversight of the collaborative after two years in hopes that CHEC will become its own nonprofit organization with the ability to raise funds, Swain said.

The group’s plans include building an online database where volunteers from businesses or academic fields can offer their services as speakers to schools.

The group will also look for businesses and corporations with existing community service programs. Teachers can inform collaboration members about their needs – whether it is supplies, volunteers or money for special projects. CHEC will then pass those requests to area businesses that can decide whether to fill them, Kester said.

The town, spurred by a perceived lack of attention from the CMS administration, formed the former School Advisory Committee several years ago to explore the possibility of pulling out of CMS and creating an independent school district.

The committee disbanded after CMS announced plans to build an elementary school on Stumptown Road, which will take enrollment pressure off of chronically overcrowded Torrence Creek Elementary School.

Swain and Bales, however, wanted to gauge community opinion before completely abandoning the idea of an education-focused committee that would serve Huntersville-area schools. CHEC – with its redirected focus of linking schools with the great community – was the result of those discussions.

“We can be that connection for people who want to find ways to help,” Kester said.