Education

CMS board OKs Clayton Wilcox’s superintendent contract with compensation up to $320,300

Clayton Wilcox sits between CMS board Chair Mary McCray (left) and Vice Chair Elyse Dashew (right) as he waits to speak at the Tuesday Breakfast Forum hours before the contract vote.
Clayton Wilcox sits between CMS board Chair Mary McCray (left) and Vice Chair Elyse Dashew (right) as he waits to speak at the Tuesday Breakfast Forum hours before the contract vote. jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Clayton Wilcox got a 7-0 vote of confidence from the school board Tuesday to take over the superintendency on July 1.

His annual compensation package will range from $292,300 to $320,300, depending on his potential performance bonus. That includes:

▪ $280,000 in base salary.

▪ A bonus of up to 10 percent, or $28,000, based on meeting personal and district goals.

▪ A car allowance of $10,800 a year.

▪ $1,500 toward life insurance.

In addition, CMS will pay him $15,000 in moving expenses and $1,077 a day for work in the district before his contract starts.

Wilcox, who is superintendent of Washington County Public Schools in Hagerstown, Md., said Tuesday he plans to return home Wednesday, formally hand in his resignation and start making regular visits to Charlotte in mid-March. He said he is “honored and humbled” to be hired.

“I believe in the power of great public schools to change not only the destiny of children and families, but of entire communities,” he said.

Wilcox was chosen in a process that started when McPherson & Jacobson search firm advertised for the job in September. The firm got 52 applications, and six semifinalists were interviewed in November. After private sessions with two finalists in December the board was initially split between them, some members said.

“We really had a struggle trying to choose between the two,” board member Thelma Byers-Bailey said last month. “The vote kept flying back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. It was almost comical.”

Chair Mary McCray and Vice Chair Elyse Dashew announced Dec. 13 that the nine members had agreed on Wilcox, who has been superintendent in three districts prior to CMS.

While the public didn’t meet the finalists, as it has in past CMS searches, Dashew said Tuesday that extensive public input about the kind of leader CMS needs helped shape the search: “Dr. Clayton Wilcox is the one who emerged as the best match for our community’s wish list.”

Board members Tom Tate and Ericka Ellis-Stewart were absent for the vote. McCray said Tate had fallen on ice, and Ellis-Stewart left early in the meeting feeling ill.

At his first Charlotte news conference Tuesday morning, Wilcox says he’s going to get to know the district better before offering his own ideas. He said in his early meetings, people are telling him that Charlotte “is a great place to live. It’s a great place to go to school, but we can be better.”

He said Superintendent Ann Clark, who attended his news conference, has been gracious about helping him, and he voiced praise for the members of her cabinet he has met. But one of the hot topics in CMS administrative offices is bound to be who Wilcox will keep and who will be replaced this summer.

Wilcox said he and his wife, Julie, have not yet decided where they’d like to live. Julie Wilcox teaches in Washington County Public Schools, but Clayton Wilcox said Tuesday she probably won’t work for CMS to avoid any questions about reporting to her husband.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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