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Sheila Shirley, who has served as chief financial officer of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools since 2000, has won this year's Bill Wise Award from the Council of the Great City Schools for distinguished service to urban education.
"Sheila is truly one of the most outstanding chief financial officers in the country and we're very fortunate to have her on our team," Superintendent Heath E. Morrison said. The award was presented Nov. 15 during the Council's annual Chief Financial Officers Conference in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The Bill Wise Award, established in 2000, is named for its first recipient. Wise was a financial leader in urban education for more than 30 years in the Nashville-Davidson County (Tennessee) Public School system.
"Few people in the United States have contributed more to the financial integrity and improvement of urban public education than Sheila Shirley," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, a national organization representing America's largest urban districts. "Her contributions have been profound and this award to her is long overdue."
Shirley oversees the CMS financial operations, including direct management and oversight of the finance division. She directs the preparation and management of the district's $1.1 billion annual operating budget and alignment of its resources.
She has received numerous honors and accolades for fiscal responsibility. The finance division has received the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association and the Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Association of School Business Officials every year under her leadership.
At an October Board of Education meeting, Aprille Bell, a partner with Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP, presented the results of the district's financial audit for the most recent fiscal year. CMS received an "unqualified opinion," which means that the auditor feels the district followed all accounting rules appropriately and that the financial reports are an accurate representation of the district's financial condition.
"I just want to take the opportunity to thank Sheila Shirley and her staff," Tim Morgan, an at-large Board member, said during the Oct. 30 Board meeting. "I've been on the audit committee for three years now. There's a level of trust that comes with this report like no other report that we get."
Prior to joining CMS, Shirley served as controller for Husqvarna and also held a variety of financial leadership positions, including director of accounting and corporate controller for Novant Health, Inc. (formerly Presbyterian Healthcare), a $1.3 billion healthcare organization. A certified public accountant, she began her career in public accounting with Coopers & Lybrand. She graduated cum laude with a bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of South Carolina and holds a master's of business administration degree from Wingate University.