CMS Announces Three Superintendent Finalists
Kriner Cash Ann Clark Heath Morrison CMS has narrowed the field of 89 superintendent applicants to three. This morning, CMS announced its finalists: Kriner Cash, superintendent of Memphis schools; Ann Clark, Chief Academic Officer at CMS; and Heath Morrison, superintendent of Nevada's Washoe County Schools, which includes Reno. Board of Education chairwoman Ericka Ellis-Stewart says all three exhibit strengths in raising graduation rates, working in tight budgets, and communicating effectively across a wide variety of constituents. "All of them have the traits that we were looking for on our position profile," she says. "All of them embody those aspects in some shape, form, or fashion." Specifically, Ellis-Stewart cites Ann Clark's extensive experience in CMS as a factor. She says that Heath Morrison has focused on making high school graduation a priority in Reno. And that Cash is impressive, because he is working to merge two school districts in Memphis. Of the three, Cash is the only candidate who has not received training sponsored by the Broad Foundation. Clark and Morrison have worked with this group that supplies grants and resources to urban public schools, including CMS. Broad has also paid for training for the CMS board, including former superintendent Peter Gorman. And it has given over $3 million to CMS to help evaluate standardized test results. Critics have questioned Broad's influence in CMS's policies. On Wednesday morning, the candidates will meet with principals, staff, and students from Mallard Creek High School, Sedgefield Middle School, and Nathaniel Alexander Elementary School. That afternoon, they will rotate individually among community panel discussions at St. Peter's Episcopal Church, the Government Center, and the main library on Sixth Street. Wednesday evening, Cash, Clark, and Morrison will participate together in a panel discussion held at the Northwest School of the Arts. At each forum, they will speak about their education philosophies and field questions from a panel made up of community members chosen by the Board of Education. Ellis-Stewart encourages the public to submit questions for these forums via Facebook (Facebook.com/CharlotteMecklenburgSchools) and Twitter (@CMS_Schools). "The community's voice has been extremely strong in this process," says Ellis-Stewart. "Now, on the back end, we are looking to have that same level of community engagement."