New CMS superintendent hits the ground running - | WBTV Charlotte

New CMS superintendent hits the ground running

(Dedrick Russell | WBTV) (Dedrick Russell | WBTV)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District's (CMS) new superintendent is officially on the job. Dr. Clayton Wilcox was sworn in Monday morning by District Court Judge Donald Cureton. 

Cureton is a CMS graduate who was the first to congratulate Wilcox on his new assignment. Soon after the ceremony, Wilcox had a strategic meeting with some school board members and his staff.

"I am feeling hopeful," CMS School Board chairperson Mary McCray said. "I am feeling invigorated. I am also feeling like we are moving forward - not missing a beat."

The board and the community have high expectations for Wilcox. He has been in Charlotte since March getting paid to learn the district so he can hit the ground running on day one.

Wilcox has to tackle a lot in his first 100 days, including first figuring out how to fill a more than $10 million budget gap. Mecklenburg County commissioners did not give CMS all of what it requested. Wilcox will determine the exact budget gap before deciding how to fill it.

"It's not a matter of layoffs or reduction in force," Wilcox said. "I think it's about controlling our appetite a little bit."

The new superintendent also wants to listen to the community over the next 100 days so the community can feel they have a part in CMS.

"Oftentimes, perhaps some in the system - and perhaps the system itself - has shut out some people that we have to do a better job listening to and then acting on," Wilcox said.

Wilcox says he has learned a lot since being in Charlotte and has made an observation: he wants people to show their CMS pride.

“Somehow people take CMS for granted,” he said.  “You got to get that friend to kind of step up and be little more prouder. Proud for the right reasons.”

Wilcox has also heard from the business community about how CMS can improve and create meaningful partnerships.

"I have talked to members of the business community already, and they want to see career academies open," Wilcox said. "I want to open that dialogue and see what that might look like."

Board members want Charlotte's new top educator to tackle the achievement gap between black and white students right away.

"We got to tackle it hard," McCray said.

Monday, Wilcox shared his thoughts on how the gap can close. He is ready to figure out what must be done.

"We have to really look very carefully at the things we are doing," Wilcox said. "Some things we are going to have to stop doing, other things we are going to have to double down on."

Wilcox would not provide specifics on what needs to stop, but he does admit CMS has invested in lots of programs.

"We have a hard time saying no to people," Wilcox said. "If you look across this district, we have lots and lots of programs, but not necessarily a lot of fidelity to the program we purchased. And we have to think about that."

So far, Wilcox has hired three people from outside the district. He says he will evaluate people currently in his executive staff before deciding if there needs to be a shake-up.

Wilcox signed a four-year contract. His annual salary is $280,000.

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