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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools finance officer Shirley gets national award

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Sheila Shirley, the quiet force behind Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ annual billion-dollar budget drama, won a national award for her service to public education.

Shirley, CMS’ chief financial officer since 2000, was honored by the Council of the Great City Schools during last week’s CFO conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“Few people in the United States have contributed more to the financial integrity and improvement of urban public education than Sheila Shirley,” said Executive Director Michael Casserly, who called the award “long overdue.”

The soft-spoken Shirley maintains a low public profile. But her job puts her in charge of the $1.2 billion budget for one of the region’s largest employers, which must follow federal, state and local financial rules.

The political decisions connected with the CMS budget are often controversial, especially during a tenure that has seen CMS swing from dramatic growth to layoffs and other budget cuts. But the budget itself has repeatedly gotten clean reports from external auditors, and the finance department has gotten numerous awards during Shirley’s time.

Before coming to CMS, Shirley worked in private finance offices, including Husqvarna and Novant Health. She is now working for her sixth CMS superintendent, Heath Morrison.

“We’re very fortunate to have her on our team,” Morrison said.

Helms: 704-358-5033
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