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Cornelius News

CMS to push for bond issue

Superintendent Ann Clark and Board Member Rhonda Lennon: CMS to push for bond issue

Teacher pay still an issue vis a vis schools in S.C., Va.

By Dave Vieser. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools will seek permission from the county to place a “significant” bond issue on the November 2016 ballot, according to Superintendent Ann Clark. Clark made her comments during the April 22 Newsmakers Breakfast held at The Peninsula Club.

“I know that the 2016 election is a big one, but we have significant capital expenses and deferred maintenance issues which need to be addressed now,” Clark said. “We’ll be discussing those needs with our board and the county during the next several months.”

Clark spoke at the Cornelius Today and Business Today Newsmakers Breakfast along with District One School Board Member Rhonda Lennon.  Clark, a 32 year CMS employee, was named Superintendent following the abrupt departure of Heath Morrison last year. She will remain in that position through 2016. “In Ann, we have the best leader of any school district,” said Lennon. “If I could convince her to stay longer, I would.”

Lennon said Clark had planned to leave the district for another position. Her predecessor, Heath Morrison, left last year amidst reports of bullying staff.

For her part, Clark says her biggest concern with CMS is “the loss of the pipeline which attracts teachers and other employees into our district. We’re losing talent to the city, the county and out of state districts where the pay is better.” She said teacher salary increases approved last year by the state legislature were a “stride” in the right direction, but more must be done.

Starting pay for teachers is 20 percent—or more—higher in South Carolina and Virginia

In response to several questions about Common Core, a national program which details what K–12 students should know in English language arts and mathematics at the end of each grade, Lennon said the goal of the program is laudable: “There have been some hiccups, but it’s logical to establish uniform standards across the state and the country. That’s especially beneficial for families who relocate frequently.”

She believes some of the program’s critics take exception to the fact that the state and federal authorities are mandating standards, rather than the program goals and objectives themselves.

On other issues:

Clark has established “a laser focus” on literacy in CMS which she calls “All about Literacy.” She said she believes fourth grade is a key evaluation time in a student’s education. “By then the student must be able to read well on their own, or they will begin to fall behind and may never catch up.” She said that her definition of literacy includes reading, writing and math.

Lennon, who has three children, says parents must be an active and equal partner in a successful education, and that technology itself can’t do it all. “In my family, we have technology timeout every day, when we put down the cell phones and actually communicate by speaking to each other and establishing eye contact.”

Both officials said there were no plans for a major CMS redistricting, despite rumors to the contrary. “I suspect some of those rumors may have been spread by the charter schools,” Lennon added.

During her time as superintendent, Clark wants to work on building internal pride among her district’s employees while restoring public confidence in the system.

Clark holds a master’s degree in special education from the University of Virginia. She also earned administrator, curriculum and supervision certification from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and earned her bachelor’s degree from Davidson College. She was actually a candidate for the CMS superintendent position once before, in 2012. However, the board ultimately chose Morrison instead. She was also a finalist for the superintendent’s role in the Wake County Public School System

Lennon was elected to the Board of Education in 2009 to represent the largest district in the CMS system.