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Superintendent Winston Taps CMS Veterans To Help Steer Schools

New cabinet named by CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
New cabinet named by CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston.

This story was updated at 12 p.m. Sept. 11.

Superintendent Earnest Winston named a new cabinet Tuesday, promoting experienced Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools staff to key positions.

He named two deputy superintendents, Matthew Hayes for academics and Carol Stamper for operations. Hayes is a former principal who has been overseeing schools in northwestern Mecklenburg County. Stamper is chief operating officer. 

"The goal is to provide more efficient and responsive support for schools," Winston told the school board as he reassigned five top administrators.

Credit Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools
Superintendent Earnest Winston

The shuffle comes about a month after Winston was named superintendent in the wake of Clayton Wilcox's forced ouster. Neither Wilcox nor the school board have disclosed why the board suspended Wilcox, then accepted his resignation, in July.

The district hasn't had a deputy since 2014. Winston was promoted to the top job, overseeing more than 19,000 employees, from his post as CMS ombudsman and chief engagement officer, where 26 people reported to him.

LaTarzja Henry, who has held top jobs in CMS communication and community partnerships, was named Winston's chief of staff. 

Laura Francisco, who followed Wilcox from Maryland to become his chief of staff in CMS, was reassigned to be assistant superintendent of support services, working for Stamper in operations. Francisco's 2017 hiring stirred some controversy because Wilcox bumped up the salary for that job by more than $40,000 a year. He also created an $85,000-a-year culinary manager job for Francisco's husband, a chef.

Henry's salary rises by just over $41,000, from almost $139,000 in her job as executive director for community partnerships and family engagement to $180,250 as chief of staff. That's what Francisco was making in that job.

CMS spokeswoman Renee McCoy said most of the others who changed jobs, including the two deputies, don't have new contracts yet.

Winston also named Kathy Elling chief performance officer, under a revived Office of School Performance. Elling was associate superintendent for student services.

"These changes reflect my best thinking on how to build a district structure that provides support for our principals and our school-based staff while also increasing operational efficiency," Winston said. 

Winston also promoted Raymond Barnes to the community superintendent job overseeing 29 of the district's most impoverished and struggling schools. Barnes worked with Denise Watts, who held that job before resigning this summer, on Project LIFT, a public-private partnership to boost achievement at some of those schools.

Barnes' annual salary was just under $118,000 as an executive director for that group of schools and rises to $155,000 as community superintendent, a bump of just over $37,000.

Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.