CMS committee lays out timeline for hiring new superintendent in just 4 months

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools hope to have its next superintendent hired by April. It’s an ambitious timeline, but the district has gone through this search process multiple times before.

Seven different people have led the second-largest school district in the state at one point over the last decade. Hugh Hattabaugh took the role twice.

Seven different people have led the second-largest school district in the state at one point over the last decade. Hugh Hattabaugh took the role twice.
Seven different people have led the second-largest school district in the state at one point over the last decade. Hugh Hattabaugh took the role twice.

So who will be next?

The search committee held their first meeting Friday and Channel 9′s Jonathan Lowe was there for it all. The four-member CMS Board committee that’s doing the legwork for the full school board already has a proposed timeline for the superintendent search.

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Key dates they mentioned were the following: They want to have a search firm selected the week of Feb. 6, the deadline for applicants will be March 10, finalist candidates will be interviewed starting March 27, and they are planning to select the next CMS superintendent during the April 3 board meeting.

CMS parent and activist Colette Forest told Lowe she feels a healthy amount of skepticism toward the new superintendent search.

“I am hopeful that the new superintendent will be guided by stronger leadership from the school board that have a stronger and courageous political will,” she said.

“Courageous” is a good way to characterize the committee’s first vote on a timeline. They want to have the person hired in just four months -- by the end of April.

“Our goal is not necessarily to have them start in April, it’s to have the hire finalized by then,” said CMS Board member Summer Nunn.

“Wow, April 2023, wow, and we’re January 6th, wow,” Forest said. “As a parent, that is astonishing to me, given the [deliberateness] and intentionality of the legwork that needs to go in.”

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The committee also voted to collect bids from search firms. The firm will help guide the board in selecting candidates, interviewing them, and making a final decision. Nunn, the chairwoman of the superintendent search committee, said the district will face stiff competition in finding top talent. The district is in a top-20 market, meaning the candidate pool is smaller.

“Generally, there is around 17% of superintendents that leave their positions,” Nunn said. “We saw a higher rate of that post COVID.”

Competing could be costly though. According to the National Association of Superintendents, search firm fees can range from $2,000 at the low end, all the way up to $100,000.

“It’s generally a percent of their salary, and generally it’s in the 25% range,” Nunn said. “They cost upwards of thousands.”

“They talk a good game but they always get the usual suspects and our Black and brown children are always the ones to suffer,” Forest said.

You may remember, CMS conducted a community engagement survey to get feedback from the public on what they want to see in next superintendent. Members of the search committee said Friday they want whatever search firm they hire to get some more of that engagement during this four-month-long search to ensure the feedback is as diverse as possible.

(WATCH BELOW: CMS Board cites ‘serious mishaps’ for its decision to fire Superintendent Earnest Winston)