CMS Board Chair responds to selection of new Superintendent and criticism

Earnest Winston names as CMS superintendent

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) District Board Chair Mary McCray calls new CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston solid and has no doubt he will do a good job. She believes he will offer the district stability and will restore confidence. She is pleased the board voted 8-0 to hire the next leader from within.

“We wanted to delay any kind of national search,” CMS School Board Chair Mary McCray said. “Because we have some good irons in the fire and we need to see how those irons are going to be heated up.”

McCray says she and other board members have been pleased with Winston’s job performance and hopes he excels as CMS Superintendent.

“We talked about other names - we did,” McCray said. “But it always came back to that one person. I think every board member has had some type of work done for them or with them along with them with Mr. Winston - that’s why we centered around Mr. Winston.”

Not long after the announcement, critics chimed in. Former school board member and former county commissioner Jim Puckett posted this on Twitter.

McCray responded to Puckett’s tweet.

“I am so proud of Mr. Puckett making those comments,” McCray said. “And maybe that’s why he is sitting at home and not a part of the county commission...We are going to have our naysayers. We are big girls - big boy, we can take it."

The CMS School Board Chair has been through this scenario before. Five years ago former CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison also resigned suddenly. Five years later Dr. Clayton Wilcox resigns. WBTV asked McCray is this a board problem or an issue with the superintendents the board hires.

“I won’t say it is the board,” McCray said. “It is the complexities of working in a large urban school district.”

McCray says it gets to her when hearing about another CMS superintendent resigning, but she says finding the right district leader is important.

“We have to look at what’s best for us,” McCray said. “The district that we are serving and the children and parents that we are serving, and do what we think is best, and I think this board is a very conscientious and very hard working board and they put their all in all in what we do each and every day.”

New Superintendent Earnest Winston was asked if he was concerned about the school board going through superintendents. There have been about four CMS superintendents in about seven years.

“I am extremely excited about working with our board of education as a whole and as an individually,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said. “And what I would say is that they have provided their full level of confidence and I want to make sure we are always communicating and on the same page with every aspect of what we do as a team in our district.”

McCray says the board got along with Wilcox. She has not spoken to him since the board suspended him several weeks ago.

“I will wait until the dust settles and everything gets back to normalcy,” McCray said. “And then there’s a possibility we may reach out to each other.”

McCray says the average time a superintendent lasts in office is about three years. She hopes there is a way to keep superintendents in place longer.

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