CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Outgoing Charlotte - Mecklenburg school (CMS) board member Dr. Joyce Waddell is leaving the school board after five years. She will be heading to Raleigh to become the new State Senator representing District 40.
She says once she gets there, she wants to raise teacher pay. Last year state lawmakers didn't give veteran teachers a substantial raise. They received a .3% raise. That figure is on her list of upsets of 2014.
"One of the biggest disappointments," Joyce Waddell said. "Would be concerning the amount of funds we received to maintain teacher salaries, that's vitally important. We don't want our teachers to go to neighboring states. I was really disappointed with that."
The Democrat says she will do what she can when she starts her new assignment in a Republican controlled legislature.
"Just because you are in the minority," Waddell said. "Doesn't mean you don't have a voice. There is a voice and I will exercise that voice."
Before heading to Raleigh, Waddell reflects on her time with the CMS school board.
"Very cohesive," Waddell said. "Very compatible and very good to work with."
In 2015 the outgoing board member would like her former colleagues to work on reopening all schools that were closed during the recession.
"We have an increased student population rate right now," Waddell said. "We have about 3,000 new students coming into CMS and we must provide for those students those buildings that are closed. I think we have to open them and as we move forward we need to emphasize that."
Waddell also shared what initiative she thought should have gotten more attention in 2014.
"Many of our students are not going to college," Waddell said. "But when they leave high school they need to be prepared for the world of work. I want us to do more with that."
The former school board member had little to say about former CMS superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison.
"I think we need to move forward," Waddell said. "And not focus in the past."
WBTV asked if she thought Morrison's separation was handled correctly.
"Dr. Morrison submitted his resignation," Waddell said. "He resigned and when a person resigns - they have resigned."
Waddell also mentioned this so called "Culture of Fear" that is hanging over the district's head.
"I don't know if we would classify it as fear," Waddell said. "And that's a discussion that will take place later on - if there is such a thing."
Waddell reports to Raleigh January 14. She has advice for her successor.
"Visit the schools to know the needs in District 3," Waddell said. "It's a unique district. It's a growing district with a lot of potential. Work with constituents, work with the board, hit the ground running and know your job."
Waddell also has advice for board members when deciding Morrison's replacement.
"The decision will be one that they can live with," Waddell said. "And that this community can live with, so we have to listen to the community to see what they have to say."
The former school board member says her most memorable time on the board is when the district's graduation rate hit 85.1%.
"Because in the past," Waddell said. "We've had some schools with 50% rate - 70% rate. We worked on that for so long and to see it moving forward at such an exuberant level - is just wonderful."