Vance High has a new principal, and he’s something of a CMS celebrity

Longtime CMS administrator and principal Curtis Carroll will take over leadership of Vance High with the immediate retirement of Principal Kit Rea.
Longtime CMS administrator and principal Curtis Carroll will take over leadership of Vance High with the immediate retirement of Principal Kit Rea. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Kit Rea is retiring as principal of Vance High, effective immediately, and Superintendent Clayton Wilcox has tapped one of his top administrators to fill the job, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced Monday morning.

Curtis Carroll, who has been named to the Vance job, has held several of the district’s highest-profile jobs working with schools that have high poverty levels and often low test scores. He is currently the associate superintendent in charge of equity and academics at all high schools.

“The transition from Kit Rea to Curtis Carroll solidifies a tradition of leadership excellence at Vance High School,” Wilcox said in a statement sent by CMS.

The CMS statement does not say why Rea, a 34-year veteran of CMS, is leaving six weeks into a school year that has already been disrupted by storm closings. Nor does it mention the selection process for a new principal, which usually includes input from students, parents and faculty, or what the plans are for filling Carroll’s job. The Observer has requested details.

Zebulon Vance High is part of the Governor’s Village complex of schools in the UNC Charlotte area. It had about 1,700 students last year (2018 enrollment tallies haven’t been released). It had a 54.5 percent achievement score last year — a composite of students’ standardized exam results — and exceeded the state’s growth target for student progress. It was one of several high-poverty CMS high schools that saw graduation rates drop dramatically — from 91 percent to 80 percent — based on changes to the state tracking system.

At the beginning of this school year, Wilcox described Carroll as one of the stars of his reorganized administration, which is designed to increase the focus on ensuring that all schools offer rigorous classes and paths to college and career success. He is one of three grade-level “equity superintendents” in the new structure.

Since starting with CMS as an assistant principal in 1993, Carroll has held a number of leadership posts in schools and central offices.

He has served as principal of McClintock Middle School in the 1990s, and led Harding High from 1999 to 2006, when it was a magnet school recognized for top results with a mostly African-American student body.

In 2006 Carroll left for a one-year stint with Duval County (Fla.) Public Schools, returning to CMS the following year as an area superintendent overseeing 11 low-performing schools. In 2010, Superintendent Peter Gorman revamped that structure and named Carroll principal of Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology, a westside magnet school.

Harding was restructured to take in neighborhood students from several low-income neighborhoods in 2011, the year Gorman left CMS. In 2014 Superintendent Heath Morrison shook up the central office set-up again and named Carroll to oversee nine high-poverty schools in the Harding zone. Carroll held that post until Wilcox, who took office in 2017, changed his assignment.

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