CMS board meets in 5-hour closed session to discuss superintendent performance

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board met for five hours Friday morning in closed session to evaluate Superintendent Clayton Wilcox, the second such meeting in recent weeks.

The board also met in closed session June 5 for a superintendent evaluation. Because the meetings were conducted in closed session, only members of the board were present.

All nine board members attended Friday’s meeting. Board Chair Mary McCray declined to elaborate about the specifics of their conversation, citing privacy concerns regarding personnel issues.

“Anything pertaining to personnel, we’re not at liberty to discuss,” McCray said after the board adjourned.

Wilcox joined CMS in June 2017, after a three-month orientation period where he worked closely with then-superintendent Ann Clark. The initial contract approved by the board gave him a base salary of $280,000 per year for a four-year period. In January, the board approved a two-year contract extension on top of a pay raise to $307,000 and a benefits increase worth $18,420 a year.

The pay increase was seen as a vote of confidence in Wilcox, who at times has experienced visible tensions with the board. Wilcox bristled when board member Ericka Ellis-Stewart questioned a report on student suspensions last year, saying that requests for more details can take time away from his staff for other responsibilities, according to an Observer story at the time. He later apologized to the board, McCray said.

Wilcox has put a particular focus on issues of equity in his first two years on the job, including presenting a report on the links between poverty, race and academic achievement in the district. In May, the board approved an equity policy, which calls for ways to monitor and measure equity in schools. It also creates a committee of up to 40 members to act as a watchdog to the district’s progress.

After the unanimous vote in January, Wilcox said the move “sends a clear signal to our community that we are on a path together as a leadership team.”

Annie Ma covers education for the Charlotte Observer. She previously worked for the San Francisco Chronicle, Chalkbeat New York, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Oregonian. She grew up in Florida and graduated from Dartmouth College.