CMS District Two Board member vows to take district to next level

RAW VIDEO: Thelma Byers-Bailey one-on-one

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - District Two School Board Member Thelma Byers-Bailey is finishing up her first year on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) board. She admits it has been a challenge.

"I wasn't familiar with the process of what a school board does," Byers-Bailey said. "What a school system does. How does CMS work."

She says she still has some learning to do but ready to take her responsibilities to the next level.

"Now that I have been through one whole cycle," the school board member said, "I get the bird's eye smattering of this year, I will be able to do some deep diving now that I've got down the basics."

She looks back on 2014 and remembers the highlight of that year. She says it's the success of Project Lift schools. Those nine schools get extra funding to help close the achievement gap. Test scores and graduation rates are improving at those schools.

"It's a work in progress," Byers-Bailey said. "But those parts that are working well are being duplicated or being replicated or we are looking at replicating it."

The board member says her greatest disappointment is when the school district tried to control the partnerships that support Olympic High School. She says that was the wrong thing to do.

"We somehow stepped in," she said. "And fumbled the ball, and had to realize sometimes the best thing to do is leave them alone."

The school board member was also disappointed by the sudden departure of former superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison. He was accused of bullying and harassing staff.

"I had no clue," she said. "Prior to that coming up that anything was going on of that nature."

There is a desire from one her colleagues to have a third party review CMS' actions to see if the district handled the separation of Morrison properly. Byers-Bailey says no.

"Why spend money to have somebody tell you what you've already heard." the school board member said.

Byers-Bailey is looking forward to 2015 and wants to knows the traits she wants to see in the next superintendent.

"Frankness," Byers-Bailey said. "Straight shooter, experience - this is not a school district that can be run by a novice."

The school board member has big plans for her district. This is what she told one of her high schools.

"I want them to be a 100 percent graduation rate." the school board member said. "I want my kids that have specific desires and dreams to be able to follow those dreams in CMS."

In 2015, Byers-Bailey says she will be more visible.

"I want to hear from my constituents," Byers-Bailey said. "I want to be involved. I want to go to the PTA meetings."

She also will be heard more fighting for the needs of District 2.

"You are not going to see me on the dais making all kinds of declarations," she said. "But I will make my squeaks out in the field."

She has not decided if CMS should hire an outside firm or chose someone from the inside to become the next superintendent. She is waiting for the board to discuss that decision.

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