Dec 21, 2022 - News

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools names a new interim superintendent

Crystal Hill

Crystal Hill. Screenshot via CMS

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education has promoted its chief of staff to the interim superintendent role.

  • Crystal Hill, who has worked with the district for eight months, will serve in the position from Jan. 1 through June 30. She will make $21,666.67 a month.
  • The motion to appoint her passed unanimously during a special meeting Tuesday evening.

Background: Hill was hired this past spring. Her responsibilities as chief of staff have included leading the Title IX office and serving as chief adviser to the superintendent and the liaison between the board of education and executive staff.

  • She previously was an assistant superintendent at Cabarrus County Schools.
  • Hill is the first woman of color to lead CMS, as WFAE noted.

What they’re saying: Board of education chair Elyse Dashew told reporters Tuesday night that Hill has a strong resume, has demonstrated her abilities at CMS so far and worked alongside interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh on the school systems’ academic goals.

  • “Obviously, with an interim, you want them to keep the train on the tracks, and we have complete confidence that she’s going to be able to do that,” Dashew said. “But on top of that, it’s even increased the momentum.”

Hill indicated she’s focused on the day-to-day operations, not landing the permanent role of superintendent.

  • “There’s so much work that needs to be done. We’ll be recommending our budget. There’s a bond referendum, the comprehensive student assignment,” Hill listed. “So, too many things to be focused on right now and not necessarily at all focused on my next career move. Just focused on the here and now.”

By the numbers: Hattabaugh’s 14-month contract is for $22,083.33 per month. He is cutting his contract six months short, leaving this month to tend to family matters in Florida.

  • CMS is also paying former superintendent Earnest Winston two years of his $288,000 annual salary, or $24,000 a month.

Flashback: Winston was fired in April following a low performance review and a tough two years dealing with the pandemic. He had been on the job less than three years.

What’s next: CMS will search across the U.S. for its fifth superintendent in a decade, hoping to find one that will stick around, at a time of heightened national superintendent turnover. It is forming an ad hoc committee to guide the superintendent search.

  • CMS was waiting until the new school members were in office to begin the search, Dashew said. She told reporters that she expects it to be a competitive candidate pool. “I think we’re in a good place to recruit some of the best in the nation.”

Between the lines: In a meeting Monday with Mecklenburg County commissioners, county chair George Dunlap expressed concern that a superintendent would try to switch up CMS’ goals for student outcomes.

  • “If there is a change in direction, that might delay or impede some progress that is beginning to happen,” he said.
  • But Dashew said the expectations are clear for the district’s next leader: “When you come to Mecklenburg, we have a framework set out that you will operate within.”
  • Newly elected board member Melissa Easley said the new school board members are “on board” with the goals. “If someone doesn’t want to follow this, then that’s not the right person for CMS,” she added.
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