Monday was Clayton Wilcox’s first full day on the job as CMS superintendent. He was sworn in that morning after spending almost four months learning how the district operates and observing the often contentious student assignment plan process.
Wilcox comes to CMS after more than five years as superintendent of Washington County schools in Maryland. He described himself as hard working, a listener and a man of integrity. He also showed he can laugh at himself, after stumbling over the district’s name, while being sworn in by district Judge Donald Cureton.
Wilcox quickly recovered and says he realizes he has a lot of work ahead. His list of priorities include working to close student achievement gaps, getting more parents involved in their children’s schools and implementing the controversial student assignment plan. Wilcox says he supports the board’s plan to shift about 7,000 students but says a lot will depend on how it’s carried out.
“What I’d say to people is to watch as we move forward,” Wilcox said. "We’ll continue to move forward with the board plan but operationalize it in ways that make sense over time."
Another big issue Wilcox faces involves convincing voters to green light a nearly $1 billion bond referendum for the school system. The money would be used to build 10 schools and renovate or add on to others that are run down and overcrowded.
“We believe we can do it and that county commissioners support the work that we’re doing and will help us in that partnership as we ask this community to support its schools,” he said.
Wilcox says he also plans to reopen the discussion on the district’s preK-8 schools. Most were forced on low-income communities on Charlotte’s west side. The district’s new student assignment plan breaks up three of those schools into middle and elementary schools.
In terms of staff, Wilcox says he doesn’t plan to add any new administrative positions.