CMS board begins search for new member

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board began a search for a new member Tuesday, a likely precursor to finding a new superintendent.

The board has an empty seat after board member Joyce Waddell stepped down to begin her term in the N.C. Senate, to which she was elected in the fall. She had represented District 3, which stretches from uptown north and east through the University City area.

School board chairwoman Mary McCray formally announced the vacancy at Tuesday’s board meeting. The district will accept applications through Feb. 2.

The school board has scheduled a special meeting for Feb. 3 to hear presentations from applicants. The new member will be voted on Feb. 5.

Waddell was first elected in 2009. Her current term runs through 2017. Waddell spent 21 years in CMS as a teacher and administrator.

School board leaders have said they want to bring on the new board member before making significant decisions in hiring a new superintendent. The post has been vacant since Heath Morrison suddenly resigned in early November.

McCray said the board may discuss how to proceed on finding a new leader at a workshop Jan. 21.

Deputy Superintendent Ann Clark has been leading the district in the absence of a superintendent. She has not been named “interim” superintendent.

Clark was a finalist for the permanent position in the search that yielded Morrison. Clark has said she would be interested in serving as superintendent now if the board wished her to.

Board member Rhonda Lennon said she is prepared to vote for Clark as permanent superintendent. She is the only person on the board to publicly state her position.

Several others have said they want to wait until they discuss the issue with each other.

“I’m going to go with the flow of the board,” McCray said. “Since we have not had the opportunity to discuss it as an entire group, I’m going to listen and just weigh my thinking when the time comes.”

McCray said she will call board members next week to ask where they stand.

One of the first big decisions will be on whether to launch a national search or quickly appoint Clark.

“I think our citizens deserve the best possible candidate for the job,” board member Thelma Byers-Bailey said. “I don’t want to presume that she’s the best person. I want to see what’s out there.”