Thursday, January 19, 2012

CMS mulls "marriage" to philanthropists

In the final hour of today's retreat,  the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board prepared for Saturday's talks on a groundbreaking partnership with Project LIFT to run eight westside schools  (read the draft contract here; the last page is the most interesting).

Members' reactions ranged from wildly enthusiastic to skeptical.  Project LIFT is the year-old quest by Charlotte-area philanthropists to raise $55 million to improve West Charlotte High and the seven schools that feed into it.

The nature of the partnership is complex.  CMS would create a new independent administrative zone made up of the eight LIFT schools,  and the philanthropists would pay the salaries of three administrators,  including Denise Watts,  a former CMS administrator who became LIFT's executive director this summer.  Watts would have authority to craft turnaround strategies,  recruit and approve staff and "request immediate reassignment" of staff who don't mesh with the plan.

A full story will be posted soon,  and I'll be filing again from tomorrow's follow-up talks. The board is scheduled to vote Tuesday on the contract.


Jim Huge, the PROACT Search executive leading the hunt for a superintendent, asked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board to rate their ideal candidate on a one-to-five scale. One is a leader focused on "managing what we've got;" five is a "change agent."

All nine members said they want a five.

That's the kind of thing that's going to help distinguish the CMS search, Huge said. Most search criteria are similar from one district to the next. For CMS,  which has a strong staff and an outstanding reputation,  one key question is whether the board wants to hold steady or keep shaking things up to create bigger gains for kids.

The board and Huge are working through a draft profile to use once CMS formally posts the job. Huge one thing he repeatedly heard during the public engagement process is that CMS already has a cadre of strong leaders in schools and central offices.  He said it's going to take an unusually strong superintendent to inspire and lead that crew.

After hearing members agonize over their differences and their fears that superintendent candidates could be deterred by public debate, Huge said that's not going to be a problem.  The way they worked out issues is a plus, he said.

Now they're talking about educators vs. nontraditional candidates. So far the trend is members prefer an educator but wouldn't exclude someone from a different background.


The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board agreed unanimously that they support the theory of action, though they want to rename it the "theory of action for change." As Chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart noted, though, the challenge will come as they try to put it into practice.

Now they're starting to talk with their search firm. Here's how the big-picture talks played out:

After the  "how to work together"  sessions, members broke into small groups, designed to mix new and old members, to talk about the board's mission, vision and core beliefs.

Tim Morgan, speaking for the first group (him, Ellis-Stewart and Tom Tate), says they're "all on board" with the mission and vision, and understand that "maximizing student achievement does not mean that every child is the same."

There's a question of what it means to say the educational culture is based on merit and individual achievement, Morgan says. He says it applies to everyone -- students, employees, etc.  "It's at all levels of the organization" and emphasizes personal responsibility, he says.

Ellis-Stewart says she supports the broad goals but thinks the challenge comes with execution:  "I think on paper they sound like great things I can easily support."

Eric Davis, speaking for himself, Richard McElrath and Mary McCray, says there's big-picture agreement, but his group wants more emphasis on the role and responsibility of parents, along with the challenges posed by poverty and the city/county role in dealing with that (McElrath is a big advocate of using zoning and housing policy to avoid concentrating poverty in urban neighborhoods).

Facilitator Mary Kendrick says white poverty is often masked or ignored because it's located in the suburbs, and asks for the board's reaction. She says she doesn't have Mecklenburg stats but this is a general trend.

Tate says the board's concern is high concentrations of poverty,  regardless of race,  and that tends to be in Charlotte.

Kendrick, who seems to be stepping outside the usual role of a facilitator,  presses the issue: "Oftentimes the child in the suburbs does not get the attention. ...  I don't want to get too deep into that issue but I do want to lift it up."

McCray, Rhonda Lennon and Amelia Stinson-Wesley, the new District 6 representative, agree there's poverty in the suburbs.

Davis's group says CMS needs a better method of reporting on how the district is acting on its theories.

The final group -- Lennon, Stinson-Wesley and Joyce Waddell -- seems focused more on wordsmithing. They wonder about the phrase "unleash innovation"  --  it just seems odd, Lennon says. They wonder if emphasizing "performance culture" has overemphasized measurable results over creativity.

Lennon suggested the board should restructure its meetings; with public comment at the start, she says, news media focus on "parents ranting and raving" rather than CMS reports such as a recent one on Reid Park initiatives. She said it's a mistake to leave such important reports until hours into meetings, when "there's not a single media and we're all looking for coffee."

Kendrick cautioned against putting public comment late, lest it discourage participation.

Davis suggested the board revamp its public comment structure. The current format  --  three-minute speeches with no reactions or comments from the board  --  is frustrating for the public and the board, he says.

McCray praised the board and interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh for making eye contact with speakers at the most recent meeting.


 "Singing Kumbayah" is a cliche among people who are skeptical about the team-building exercises that take place at retreats,  but now I've heard it actually happen.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board was mired in discussion of the rift between the new Democratic majority and the three others. Former Chair Eric Davis, an unaffiliated voter, and Republicans Tim Morgan and Rhonda Lennon says they've felt shut out of decision-making since the November election.

Davis broke some ground when he acknowledged that this might not be a new issue. He said he's heard that some board members felt like he failed to include them during his two years as chair.

Chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart, noting that  "I am new to my role as a board member and I am new to my role as chair,"  acknowledged that her early actions left some feeling excluded.  "I apologize for that. I am ready to move forward. I will do what I can do to become a better communicator, but I think communication is a two-way street," she said.

Lennon, who has been Ellis-Stewart's most vocal critic, responded:  "I'm sorry for whatever I've done that offended you.  Either we agree to move on or not."

"Do you agree?"  Ellis-Stewart asked.

"I'm here,"  Lennon said.

"But do you agree?" Ellis-Stewart pressed.

At that point, Vice Chair Mary McCray broke into the opening bars of the campfire song. "I can get my guitar back here in 30 minutes," added Tom Tate.


A little over an hour into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board retreat, partisan clashes have come into the open.  The board is working with facilitator Mary Kendrick on laying the groundwork for healthy communication.

Everyone agrees the board should work for the good of all children,  but board member Rhonda Lennon,  who represents the north suburbs (and a Republican who has gone from being part of a majority coalition to being in a political minority) says district representatives need to speak for their constituents:  "No matter how much I like you,  I'm still going to represent my peeps,"  she told her colleagues.  "I have to work for the good of all children from the perspective of those who elected me."

Chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart,  elected by the new Democratic majority,  objected to the notion that the board has to be  "partisan and political. To the extent that we put labels on ourselves,  it stymies our ability to be different."

Lennon shot back that there have been partisan decisions made behind closed doors,  an apparent reference to the 5-3 vote to appoint a Democrat to the vacant seat representing the Republican-leaning District 6.  She said the board can't move forward until  "we have been honest about what's been going on."

Eric Davis,  an unaffiliated voter and the former chair,  cautioned the board about airing too many clashes in public, knowing that prospective superintendents are monitoring the news about CMS.  But he said the issues Lennon raised are crucial to moving forward.  "Ericka, this is your role,"  he said,  urging her to figure out how to deal with the rift.

Ellis-Stewart asked if there were concerns beyond the selection of the District 6 member. Lennon, with Davis nodding vigorously,  said virtually every decision made since the November election has left the non-Democrats out of the loop.  "Communication or lack thereof,"  added Tim Morgan, a Republican.

Vice Chair Mary McCray,  a recently retired teacher,  said she always tried to start her school year fresh,  and hopes the board will do the same.  "This is a fresh start for us, because it's a new day."

They're now talking about whether they can legally go into closed session to talk about board relationships.  "Call it personnel issues, because we're all on the payroll," Davis said.  Attorney George Battle cautions them that's complex terrain.


New board Chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart opened the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board retreat by acknowledging that "our first 30 days together as a group have been somewhat rocky,"    but told her colleagues she hopes the next day and a half will help them come together as a group that can focus on the achievement of students.

Ellis-Stewart told the facilitator she thinks one of the big questions in front of the board is "where we plan to go relative to reform and how we define it as a group," and added that assessment (or testing) is a big issue in the community.

Facilitator Mary Kendrick, a West Charlotte High alum  (see more about her background below)  is reviewing the basics with the board.  One of the subtexts of the new board is "who has the influence now?", and one exchange provided a glimpse of that tension. Kendrick told the board about the prep work she's been doing,  including meeting with  "some folks who are meeting to talk about the education of their children  ...  I don't know how visible they are."

"Do they have a name?"  asked board member Tim Morgan.

"I don't know their name," said Kendrick,  who said her brother invited her to the gathering.


I'll be posting periodically from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board retreat Friday and Saturday.  It's at the CMS Leadership Academy, 7920 Neal Road (governors village campus in the University City area), and it's open to the public.  For anyone who's interested, here's the agenda.

The main business items are the superintendent search and the district's agreement with the philanthropists trying to raise $55 million for Project LIFT,  a private effort to boost performance at westside schools. Approval of a Project LIFT contract is on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting,  though that agenda offers no details.

At least as interesting as the specifics will be the talk about how board members plan to relate to each other and what they think about the district's vision, mission and core beliefs.  As most readers know, the board has a new majority and new leadership,  and the first couple of meetings have sparked heated talk of changing values and urban/suburban rifts.

The facilitator will be Mary Kendrick of Greensboro.  The bio sent by CMS describes her as a  "motivational speaker;  facilitator;  executive coach;  anti-racism trainer;  and an Inclusion and Respect- Organizational and Leadership Coach, Strategist and Consultant."

"Mary’s Focus and Purpose is to serve as an advocate for human dignity and social justice.   She partners with and coaches leaders to achieve greater organizational effectiveness in support of progressive social change," it says.

She's being paid $1,500 for the retreat.  CMS didn't have other costs yet,  but meetings at the CMS facility have never been posh, in my experience.  Long gone are the days when I would chase the board to the Grandover Resort in Greensboro or the Hidden Crystal Inn in Hiddenite (a location I always believed then-Superintendent James Pughsley selected because it didn't have enough rooms for reporters to stay overnight).


Anonymous said...

Wow! This has been posted a whole forty minutes without anyone bringing up free and reduced lunch?

Anonymous said...

7:12, it will be interesting what comes of this "retreat". Are we going to see a more "urban" focused school board, as if it could be anymore than it has been over the years?

Will this rift between urban and suburban become even larger? How will suburban schools get back to more reasonable size classrooms? Will this BOE get serious about figuring out if any of the extra programs are giving any bump in academic performance. The bump is so little in so few schools and some not even in SS schools. When a school has so many extra programs going, are some hurting others?

Lastly. the previous BOE had voted not to be intertwined with Project LIFT? Is this going to change? Did someone within CMS get directive to hold out one or more vacated buildings for Project LIFT or even some more resources?

Wiley Coyote said...

"Social justice"....

...I wonder if she'll beat Obama's record of using the word "fair" more than 17 times in one setting....

Anonymous said...

Project Lift is Free and Reduced Lunch for the school board.

Anonymous said...

If there is not a firing of several of the administration that are at the $100,000 and above salary, then there will be NO trust by any of the taxpayers going forward. Cut the waste and add classroom teachers.

Wiley Coyote said...

On track to graduate:

Waddell High (closed) 49.1%

West Charlotte High 53.2%

What's wrong with this picture?

Granted, Waddell is now closed, however, at the time PROJECT LIFT was announced, Waddell wasn't closed. West Charlotte got the $55 million.

Those students went...somewhere....

Pamela Grundy said...


You don't have to like LaTarzja Henry, but it's childish and ugly to play with her name, as a number of Forum posters do. Perhaps you'd like to take responsibility for your words by letting us know who you are. Are you proud of what you've said?

Anonymous said...

$123,000 Party Planner on taxpayers dollars. I will call her whatever I wish. Hopefully I can call her fired along with the rest of the BOOBS in statistics and communications!

Anonymous said...

Not posh in the location. Spending $1,500 on the speaker. That is the salary for the entire year for a middle school coach!

Anonymous said...

From the bio of Mary Hendrick, the facilitator:
"Mary’s Focus and Purpose is to serve as an advocate for human dignity and social justice. She partners with and coaches leaders to achieve greater organizational effectiveness in support of progressive social change."

Is this a hint of what our new board is going to be all about? Hmmmm--another clue as to who will be pulling the strings for the next 2 years.

Anonymous said...

Ann--Have you done any checking on the background of the facilitator other than what's provided in her bio? Wiley?

Ann Doss Helms said...

I'm with Pam on the silly names (thus the deletion of the "clever" nickname comment). Vigorous expression of opinion is great, but sniping without substance is a distraction.

Anonymous said...

I have gone through various people search engines, standard google search, searched through all the college directories in and around Greensboro, searched Guilford County Schools and I have yet to come across a Mary Hendrick. The closest I have found is a Marlene Hendrick at NC A&T.

I used Greensboro proper but searches did go out to a number of the smaller towns around Greensboro.

Anonymous said...

Okay just saw Ann's entry about Mary Hendrick, West Charlotte alum. I wish they had picked someone with some professional experience without ties to the community who could come in as an objective facilitator.

Guess we will have to wait and see. I many pop in for a few hours this afternoon.

Second, I do not believe CMS should anything to do with Project LIFT. It needs to stand ot fail on its own. If it fails, they can always point fingers at CMS for not doing some part.

Anonymous said...

If project LIFT produces hald the money it says its going too it would be a success. They already are "looking for the money" and its going to be a uphill battle for them. I do not wish them ill feelings just a pipedream to think it will come to fruition. That CMS would be linked too it is a mistake since its a outside interest group. Nothing surprises me anymore with this bumbling group of title 1 groupies.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:40, it's Kendrick with a K.

Anonymous said...

Original post said Hendrick, not Kendrick, thus making it impossible to find her.

You all might like to check out this link from this week's Tuesday Breakfast Forum, which featured new board chair and vice chair:

Question # 5, which concerns the Observer's editorial comment on the District 6 appointment wlll provide a good insight into their attitude. Not the least bit concerned about the "rocky start" as far as I can tell. At least not before this group.

independentgrl said...

So, the paid facilitator either doesn't know or won't tell the name of the group she's meeting with as part of her prep. Sounds like amateur night over there...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ann about the Kendrick (spelling). The original post had Hendrick.

Anonymous said...

Mary's name is associated with a group in Greensboro called Other Voices. Here is the pdf file on current activites, who they are, an an applcaition to the new round of workshops.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Argh, you're right about my misspelling -- sorry! I've corrected it. Guess that's what I get for posting at day's end after filing three stories and a data chart; I ran out of brain cells.

Anonymous said...

Mary's LinkedIn profile;

Wiley Coyote said...

"Social Justice" is all you need to know.

As I said in another post, I wonder if she will break Obama's record of repeating the word "fair" 17 times in his recent speech.

Anonymous said...

Other voices sounds a lot like Charlotte's Community Building Initiative, which started Crossroads and came up with the four videos that present possible scenarios for the future of Charlotte. Unfortunately all four scenarios cast the white population as the ones who are holding back progress. These groups thrive on community distrust and division--if that disappears they would be out of a job.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm--after reading the profile of Erika's chosen facilitator one does have to question Erika's concern about the rocky start. Sounds to me like she and her friends are in firm control and intend to make that very clear to all.

Wiley Coyote said...

The main business items are the superintendent search and the district's agreement with the philanthropists trying to raise $55 million for Project LIFT, a private effort to boost performance at westside schools....

I'm going to have to call you out on this one.

The only association Project LIFT has to "westside schools", is one high school, West Charlotte and its 7 feeder schools.

Stating "westside schools" gives th impression other just as deserving schools as the old Waddell feeder schools and West Meck Meck are involved and they are not.

The CMS Investment Study Group has announced the creation of a program called Project L.I.F.T. (Leadership and Investment For Transformation), which will address educational issues in the West Charlotte Corridor. The program will seek to provide $55 million in private funding, which will support additional services and educational enhancements for Charlotte-Mecklenburg students in the West Charlotte corridor, defined as West Charlotte High School and the middle and elementary schools that feed into it.

Anonymous said...

Just read Ann's latest report, in which Mary McCray says she hopes they can start with fresh relationships in the new year. Someone might ask her why, then, on Tuesday at the Breakfast Forum she and Erika both showed little concern for the ramifications of their political maneuverings over District 6.

Anonymous said...

I live in one of the northern communities; I want the school board member I voted for to represent me and to be vocal about such representation. We have gotten far fewer of the resources that our kids need for years now, and it does not look as if it will change. So, while Rhonda's voice likely will not be heard by the majority on the school board, it will be heard by the people she represents. We DESERVE THAT, since we are among those enabling the free lunch bunch.

Anonymous said...

Clearly someone needs to set Mary Kendrick straight on what is going on with many years of strangling suburban schools withfunding, running off experienced teachers, overcrowded classrooms to the point of being safety and fire code violations, etc.

She apparently chooses to believe like many of the West Charlotte crowd that CMS does nto "try" to do somethign about the dismal academic performance. As if the 2 to 2.5 times funding than suburban schools get is nto enough and the only answer is more maney.

Anonymous said...

Go get them Rhonda!
Ye sliek the BOE felt that had to end Davidson IB, one of the leading middle schools in the state to be "fair" when they closed inner city schools that had no business/no capacity need to be built anyway.

Wiley Coyote said...

I'm going to form a new non-profit called Project C.L.I.P. which stands for CMS' Lousy Information Process.

With these funds, we hope to hire someone who actually understands what the word "data" means and how to mine it.

I have donated $1.00.

Anonymous said...

Wiley, I am going to buy a lottery ticket today. If I win the grand prize, I will donate $10 million to a foundation that will become the thorn in CMS's side and embarrass this community till the city/county leaders pulling the strings of the schol board give up.

Anonymous said...

“Vice Chair Mary McCray, a recently retired teacher, said she always tried to start her school year fresh, and hopes the board will do the same. "This is a fresh start for us, because it's a new day."

It is my understanding that Mary had no teaching assignments. Calling her a ‘recently retired teacher’ when she hasn’t stepped foot in a classroom to teach nor had any students to teach for a long period of time seems to be at odds with the phrase ‘start her school year fresh’.

As a union leader paid by the union (money laundered through CMS) she was paid year-round by the union to represent union interests. The sentence would lead people to think she was actually a ‘teacher’ that was ‘in the classroom’ with students who had a new class of fresh-faced youngsters at the beginning of each school year.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I do not want a kumbayah board. We know who loses then. We know when the word compromise is used, who loses.

We need action based on fact and recognition that public schools are an education institution not a social services delivery engine.

Anonymous said...

"Call it personnel issues, because we're all on the payroll,"

Elected officials are not ‘personnel’ because they are not employees.

You cannot go into closed session to talk about elected officials.

Regardless of whether elected officials are paid – they are NOT employees.

Eric should know this and so should the board.

The fact that they don’t is embarrassing for them.

Anonymous said...

Reply to 11:01am.
The previous board had an obvious majority that Ms. Lennon enjoyed participating in, hence her outrage at the loss of that majority and apprehension of working with the new board. Her voice was heard loud and clear on the previous board and their policies created the current situation across the county. The current board hasn't made any decisions around school funding or resource allocation yet. Maybe you should go back and look at every time her and her other board members hands were lifted in agreement and figure out where your money went and why.
As far as the board's appointment to District 6; I think that in general board appointments are a lose-lose situation because you are bound to pick someone that somebody does not like. That's why we have elections. In my opinion, picking a virtually unknown but highly motivated person allows more community voices to be heard instead of just the same ones that got us to where we are now. I personally would like to hear people encouraging district 6 families to reach out to her instead of telling them to ignore her and cast her to the side. It’s pretty irresponsible for sitting board members to do that to another board member and to the families of a district that they say they like.

Anonymous said...

First, let me thank Ann Doss Helms for covering this "CMS Event"! For those of us who work 8-5 to support CMS free lunches, having this info is important. I think CMS needs to be concerned about the increase in the number of Charter schools that will be approved over the next 2 years! Where do you think all the GOOD teachers will end up??? What do you think will happen to the graduation rates for CMS---they are not going to go up. I was ok about Project LIFT but now that CMS is going to be tied to this organization, I am NOT happy. Throwing huge sums of money at these schools is NOT going to deliver a better education for these kids---that has been proven many times over. Getting back to the basic necessities like school security, caring teachers, supportive parents/community and reasonable class size is important to children feeling safe while at school and not distracted by violence or bullying. Its not as complicated as they make it out to be. Its not the bricks and mortar (as Davidson IB proved) that make a great education---it was the school staff/teachers and parents/community joining in to make things happen AND holding the kids accountable for things like doing homework, showing up for class and participating in the classroom. ---Maybe I should put my application in for Superintendent! I don't have all the required PHDs/ABCs behind my name but CMS has tried this in the past and it has not improved our education system!

Anonymous said...

@ 11:39 AM - Mary McCray could not have worked for a teachers' union in Charlotte or NC there are no teachers' unions in North Carolina. NCAE and CTA have no collective bargaining or strike powers. They are not unions.

Anonymous said...

Davis, Morgan and Lennon are all weak. They have no idea what they are dealing with. So it's hard to feel sorry for them.

Anonymous said...

Oh great. Just what CMS needs.

More coaching in political correctness.

Why don't they hire a statistics consultant instead.

Anonymous said...

What an absolute crock:

Institute For Dismantling Racism

Yeah, I wonder how that consulting gig went...

Anonymous said...

From me the voter/tax payer persepctive, they were essentially a union. While they could not strike/bargain, etc. like a union, they blindly followed the political party that keep promising them things, though not really delivering, in return for campaign donations.

Anonymous said...

Ellis-Stewart said: "I am new to my role as a board member and I am new to my role as chair," acknowledged that her early actions left some feeling excluded. "I apologize for that"

Besides apologizing I think she needs to explain why she promoted Dr. Rembert for the board seat in the first place. There is no way that she could not have known what kind of impression her support for Rembert created. She needs to apologize for that.

Anonymous said...


Where did she make those statements?
When she voted for a different candidate I believe that she closed the door on that subject. Beside that, all of the candidates that submitted their applications were qualified to do so.

Anonymous said...

@12:07: No, those are not "unions," but yes, she was paid, unlike CTA, where all board members are volunteers.

Anonymous said...

1:29: Where did she make these statements? At the board retreat today! Read Ann's post above, 4th paragraph. (4th paragraph until Ann reports further on this meeting).

And no, I don't believe her vote for Stinson Wesley really did close the door on the subject. The community has a right to know why the school board chair would openly support someone who was obviously a poor fit for the district (I believe she reiterated her belief that Rembert would have been a good rep even after the vote)

part-time teacher said...

The $1,500 fee for the consultant would pay for a community college instructor to teach a course for a full semester. This is an indication of misplaced priorities.

Christine Mast said...

If you think $1,500 is high, look at this agenda item for next Tuesday's Board Meeting:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Agenda Item

Meeting Date
January 24, 2012

Agenda Item Title
Consider $56 to be Added to Board Members Expense Accounts to Either Reimburse or Pay for Use of Cellular Phones for CMS-Related Business

Correlation to Board of Education Theory of Action
Support innovation through the sharing of best practices and effective allocation of resources

Staff Present

Main Points
Board members will receive $56 added to their monthly expense accounts. Funds are to reimbuse or pay for the costs of the use of cellular phones for CMS-related business.

Fiscal Implications
$6,048 per year

Agenda Item Type
Action Items

Consider $56 to be added to board members expense accounts to either reimburse or pay for use of cellular phones for CMS-related business

Anonymous said...

Now I know why my kids go to PRIVATE school.

Anonymous said...

Board of Education members receive an annual base salary of $12,237 and a monthly expense allowance of $370. Bottom line: $16,677 a year. The board’s chairman, Eric Davis, does marginally better with a base salary of $15,908 and a monthly expense allowance of $470, for a total annual take of $21,548.

That's without the proposed addition of $56 a month.

Wiley Coyote said...

From Pundit House, September 2011 on salary and benefits comparison of BOE to the BOCC:

So how much are Mecklenburg County commissioners paid for their public service, and how does it compare to their counterparts on the CMS Board of Education? Lennon wasn’t far off the mark.

A county commissioner receives an annual base salary of $22,369, along with an annual technology allowance of $2,900, a travel allowance of $3,528, and an expense allowance of $4,320. Bottom line: $33,118 a year. But it doesn’t stop there. Commissioners can also partake of the county’s benefits plan at the same rate offered full-time employees: a monthly premium of $50 for a standard medical plan, offered through Cigna Medical, with the county picking up the monthly balance of $488.

Board of Education members, by contrast, have to cover the full cost of medical benefits, if they choose to participate in the school system’s plan. And school board members draw about half in annual salary and allowances than their counterparts on the board of commissioners.

Board of Education members receive an annual base salary of $12,237 and a monthly expense allowance of $370. Bottom line: $16,677 a year. The board’s chairman, Eric Davis, does marginally better with a base salary of $15,908 and a monthly expense allowance of $470, for a total annual take of $21,548.

My question is, what does the $470.00 per month "expense allowance" cover for the BOE?

Anonymous said...

Seems pretty obvious Rhonda is starting to rev up her re-election campaign by trying to prove her conservative cred after it being non-existent the last few years.

Maybe if she actually studied the issues and listened to her constituents she wouldn't be in such a situation.

Anonymous said...

Maybe if her constituents and the constituents in district 5 and 6 had gotten out the vote none of us would be in this situation!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this Board meeting and perhaps the Board itself is going very quickly south in a handbag. Are these professionals? So sad....I think we have students who could be better represent CMS as members of the Board....Singing a campfire song at a Board meeting....priceless....and I was so hoping for a mature and intelligent Board this time around.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad I have left Meck and CMS behind. You idiots that still live there can pay the high taxes and deal with the incompetant democrats that you useless people elect. I feel sorry for your children because without fundamental changes within CMS the kids will continue to be shortchanged in the education that you geniuses are paying high taxes for. Good luck to you

Christine Mast said...

Expense allowances of:

$470/mo for Ericka-Ellis Stewart
$370/mo for all other Board members

Per Sheila Shirley,

"The monthly expense allowance (as noted above) is paid under a non-accountable plan and is intended cover all travel and other expenses incurred in Mecklenburg County."

Further, "The expense allowance has been in place as part of the board compensation for some time (mid 1990’s) –primarily for in-county travel. Cell phones were not specifically addressed."

What happens when the Board Members have conferences, meetings and other travel outside Mecklenburg County? How are those expenses covered? Is there a budget for those kinds of expenses?

Per Sheila Shirley:

"Board members are reimbursed in accordance with district policy for travel outside of Mecklenburg County by filing an expense report. The budget for board travel is $30,000."

Anonymous said...

Rhonda Lennon is the worst school board rep we've had in years. Bring back Gavreau and McGarry.

Wiley Coyote said...

If only one Democrat runs against Lennon, she will most likely lose.

Lennon ran against two people the last time and their votes were split. Lennon received 9,101 votes, Gail Summerskill received 3,451 and Robin Bradford received 5,615. There were 107 write-in votes.

According to voter information, Bradford and Summerskill are Democrats, unless there are two of each of those ladies living in District 1 with the same name. But only one name each was returned in the query.

Reality Check said...

Wiley, I didn't expect this from you:

3,451 + 5,615 = 9,066. Lennon received 9,101 votes. In no way can you predict she will likely lose against only one democratic candidate.

Anonymous said...

ERIC DAVIS what a bozo trying to hold public conversations in private meeting ! Ericka and the attorney should boot you off the board for having that negative attitude as a simple illegal act. I am glad Annis catching all this and reporting good for her honesty will prevail.

Wiley Coyote said...

Reality Check...

I said "most likely lose", plus you left off the 107 write-ins that could have gone to another candidate, possibly another Democrat of their liking.

Also, Lennon has proven to be ineffective, so she could have another Republican run against her.

Reality Check said...

First of all, the chair can not "boot you off the board" in the first place, nor is asking to have a discussion behind closed doors illegal. (It may not be allowed to go off the record like that, but asking certainly isn't illegal.)

Secondly, he attempted to have private conversations during a public meeting, not as you stated in reverse.

Finally, he wanted to discuss the "relationships" of the board members in private, which I actually support. Lately, the BOE has begun airing out far too much dirty laundry in public. While I, as a taxpayer, would not be happy if the BOE was making decisions and/or sharing vital information in closed session, I would applaud the decision for all board members to privately put an end to all the partisan bickering, appearance of bullying, and general playground clique behavior and come back remembering that they work for the public, specifically the children enrolled in CMS schools.

Please tell me your interest in gossip could be out-weighed by your interest in elected officials acting maturely. Even if they have to get some things off their collective chests in private.

Laser Guided Loogie said...

God what mess.

This is why homeschooling is so necessary. It's sad that so many good kids are fed into this intellectual meat grinder.

By the way, NEVER attend a meeting with a "facilitator."

Yes Ed school freaks, there are some of us out here who See you and Know you.


Anonymous said...

It is fascinating that Morgan, Lennon and Davis are complaining about being locked out of the decision making since November. What do you think you guys did when Gorman was here. You locked out not only Board members but the general public. Shame on you. You reap what you sew. It is s shame that such fools are put in charge of a Board of Education.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Proact's question about what does the board want in a new Superintendent on a scale from 1 to 5 - 1 being status quo and 5 being a change agent is odd... how would they label 2, 3 and 4?

Since 3 is the midpoint between status quo and change agent would that mean the new super would be status quo on odd-numbered days and a change agent on even-numbered days?

Silly question. And of course the board would all answer 5 and want a change agent.

But define change agent.

To Morgan, Lennon and Davis saying 5 means they want a super like Gorman who will add more testing, screw teachers and the like.

To Waddell, McElrath, Tate and McCray it means a super who will stop testing and support teachers more.

Ellis-Stewart falls somewhere in between those.

Would be nice if someone realized this and asked Proact to really explain all this instead of using the jargon and what not to push through their ideas.

Anonymous said...

4:23 Ah, if only it was all as simple as that.

And of course all Waddell, McElrath, Tate, and McCray want is to support teachers. No other social agenda at all.

Anonymous said...

Ann, thanks so much for your effort and reporting today, and your endurance and probably trying to hold back snickering with some of the theater.

DistrictSix said...

The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.

Adolf Hitler

Anonymous said...

Unless we're planning to Change to a world in which students and parents are held accountable and where Uptown begins to believe it works for the schools, rather than the reverse, I don't want any.

Anonymous said...

My gosh, it went from bad to worse. A facilitator who is acting like the board chair? A facilitator is supposed to facilitate participation, not present his or her own views.

Anonymous said...

"change agent" - sheesh... barf.

Anonymous said...

I wonder whose sorority chose Ms. Kendrick? I wonder if anyone objected? Consumers have a right to know at these prices.

Wiley Coyote said...

(McElrath is a big advocate of using zoning and housing policy to avoid concentrating poverty in urban neighborhoods).

That sentiment Sir, is why public education will remain in the toilet.

You want to completely upend Mecklenburg County for social engineering?

The stupidity in that mindset is the fact no matter what a child's skin color, household income or where they live, at the end of the day, they still have to learn the same answers to the same questions in class.

Anonymous said...

Peter Gorman was a "Change Agent" we gave him millions and he gave us back "CHANGE!!!"

Anonymous said...

To the poster who stated that Rhonda Lennon represents her district I have to say "ARE YOU HIGH?" Rhonda Lennon represents Hough High and Hough High only! There are other schools in her district but she is concerned with only one and that my friends is a fact.

Wiley Coyote said...

Project L.I.F.T. is a ground breaking initiative that recognizes that the achievement gap that separates thousands of minority and low-income students from their peers in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools is unacceptable. This educational crisis has far reaching economic and social implications for the community. To ensure all children receive the promise of a high quality education, Project L.I.F.T. aspires to lift up and accelerate the school district's efforts to improve academic outcomes for all students. The need is urgent and clear. The return on investment and collective impact of coordinating and leveraging philanthropy on a common agenda and approach to closing the achievement gap will be much greater than that of isolated efforts. To attain dramatic results in student achievement, bold action must be taken and it must be taken now.

The arrogance in the statement above is appalling, especially to those taxpayers who have spent billions on CMS schools to ensure THEIR kids received a quality education. In fact, these same Project LIFT schools already receive(d) more money per pupil than most other CMS schools.

So let me get this straight. Project LIFT people have come in and told CMS they have the answers to do all these wonderful, groundbreaking things for $55 million over five years?

Why would the school board get in bed with this mess?

I predict tax dollars will be spent on this down the road, yet another boondoggle, and it will never go away.

This will be Bright Beginnings on steroids.

For all the rhetoric from the Project LIFT website, talking about "westside schools", they are leaving out the old Waddell feeder schools which are just as abysmal and also West Meck.

Project L.I.F.T. Schools

Allenbrook Elementary School

Bruns Academy K-8

Druid Hills Academy K-8

Ranson Middle School

Statesville Road Elementary School

Thomasboro Academy K-8

Walter G. Byers Academy K-8

West Charlotte High School

Anonymous said...

Well this goes beyond what Project LIFT was originally touted to be. It was to be anything but in the shcoolhouse.

CMS should not be in cohoots with them. There are too many uptown power brokers trying to manipulate this demographic. Now if this fails, there will be so much finger pointing and public accusations of sabotage, it wil not be pretty.

Make Project LIFT stand on their own!

Anonymous said...

So CMS BOE will give Project LIFT the power to dismiss educators just because they are not "Superman"?

Wiley Coyote said...

Anon 8:30....

Here's another ridiculous twist, in the fact McElrath wants to use zoning and housing policies to disperse throughout the County, the very students Project LIFT is supposed to "help"...

This will be another example within CMS as to the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

At the end of this experiment, it will be a grand success. We already know that. Dramatic gains..achievement gap dramtically reduced....blah blah blah..

Afterall, CMS is great at massaging data as we have recently learned.

Anonymous said...

Alright so if approved by the BOE, next comes the North Meck crowd, the Ballantyne crowd, etc. wanting to run their schools to suit their "clients", the kids and their parents.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would CMS take this money and partnership. Obviously CMS is doing an incredible job at West Charlotte...I mean half the folks are graduating. Don't get in cahoots with a national group that is dedicated to bringing change. They might make it worse just at a time when things are going great over there. I think it is arrogant for philantropists to want to help minority kids to learn. They obviously have a (hidden) motive, probably to make a lot of profit off the west side...yeah, that's it. I say keep things the way they are...they're going great.

Anonymous said...

Do you realize that Project lift might try to evaluate teachers and might reassign them? The nerve! BTW, I just hated what NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg had to say to the Council of Mayors in DC today:

Anonymous said...

McElrath has it exactly backward. You don't eliminate poverty to lift lift students to eliminate poverty. You don't perpetuate ignorance. you demand excellence. For CMS to stand in the way of a group of folks who want to adopt West Charlotte and turn it into a center of excellence, you should be ashamed to look in the mirror. I'd love to see a stat of how many kids who attended W. Charlotte and didn't graduate are now in jail. Put the kids first!

Anonymous said...

It's a shame when the only one caring about the suburban children is the facilitator.

Wiley Coyote said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Really tired of the whining about the District 6 appointment. If people want to complain, blame Tim Morgan. He is the one that chose to ruan at-large - he just miscalculated. This is the way elective politics works - the winners run things - GET OVER IT!!!

Anonymous said...

To the Project LIFT naysayers: how many of you have been in these schools? Allenbrook and Bruns do not look like Hawk Ridge and Olde Providence based on resources and volunteers. Yes, the public money is disproportionate to these schools, but so is the private money that flows into them from suburban parents and corporate matching gifts. BOE- we need BOLD actions and Project LIFT is precisely that.

Anonymous said...

From the announcements at past Tuesday's Tuesday Morning Breakfast Forum: Mary Klenz announced for Louise Woods that the League of Women Voters is encouraging the CMS school board to re-establish an Equity Committee. For more info, contact Louise Woods.

Louise Woods--Meck ACTS, League of Women Voters, Tuesday Morning Breakfast participant, most likely a Swann Fellowship member as well.

Anonymous said...

I have a different take from Ann on the section she wrote around the theory of action, 3rd section down this morning. I sat there and heard Tom first hand and watched his body langauage as he and his elitist superioirty dismissed the facilitator and Rhonda and other board members when they insisted poor white and hispanic children had the same challenges with education and poverty.

He is clearly pandering to a voting block to get his and his cult followers thinking back in control via busing.

He should be ashamed of himself. This community should be ashamed of him and demand his resignation from the BIE>

Anonymous said...

I too was concerned about Tom Tate's comments, although I was not there to hear or see the whole thing. I agree that it is unacceptable for him to be dismissive of suburban issues. Interesting that he and his supporters often accuse the suburbs of doing the same thing--minimizing or ignoring urban issues.

Sharon Starks

Wiley Coyote said...

Project LIFT, Bright Beginnings...

No difference.

Both a waste of millions.

I'll say it for the umpteenth time.

It does not matter who you are or where you come from. At the end of the day, you either learn what the 26 letters of the alphabet are or you don't.

To suggest it takes an additional $2,000 per year per student for 5,500 students to accomplish this is ridiculous.

How much more in TAX DOLLARS will we have to thrown down this impending black hole?