CMS School Board narrows search for new superintendent

CHARLOTTE — The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board will hire the next superintendent in about three weeks, and there is a lot riding on the decision.

Many parents are trying to keep up with the search for the district’s new leader.

“I think it’s really important,” said Judy Hari, a CMS parent. “I’m really invested in the public schools. My son has been a public-school student since pre-K and I really think we need strong leadership.”

Hari knows exactly what she would like to see at the top of that person’s qualifications.

“They need to have experience with improving student outcomes because we are a very large school district,” she said.

Hari said she would like the school board to be transparent about who the candidates are.

The school board has six finalists in the superintendent search, but who they are is being kept confidential until the end.

“We feel like that gave us a deeper candidate pool,” said Charles Jeter, executive director of Government Affairs at CMS. “But part of that, we had to promise these candidates that their names wouldn’t be released.”

The interviews, which start Friday, will be done in a closed session.

CMS officials cited a state statute that says they must go into closed session to consider the qualifications, competence, performance, character, fitness, conditions of appointment or conditions of initial employment of an individual public officer.

“Different states have different laws,” Jeter said. “In Florida, you’re required to list that information. In North Carolina, you’re actually prohibited from doing it, unless we get permission from the applicant.”

Jeter said he understands the demands of transparency in the process considering there have been seven superintendents to lead CMS over the last decade.

“The track record is (that) we’ve done it very open and in front of everybody and that has not worked,” he said.

“On the one hand, I see that, that they want to keep it kind of private,” Hari said. “But on the other hand, I think once they get to top three or something, shouldn’t we know?”

The board hopes to narrow the finalist pool to a smaller number in time for a second round of interviews that begins May 1.

The announcement of a new superintendent is expected at the school board’s May 9 meeting.

VIDEO: CMS’ proposed budget focuses on salary, benefit increases

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.

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