CMS to recruit, train principals for high-poverty schools

Ninety-one of the district’s 172 schools are labeled high-poverty. Students at those schools are disproportionately African American.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says it wants to increase the quality of principals in its high-poverty schools.

At a news conference Wednesday, Superintendent Peter Gorman said the disctict will partner with a New York nonprofit to recruit and train principals for “high-need” schools. CMS spokeswoman Cynthia Robbins later defined high-need schools as those where more than 50 percent of students receive free or reduced lunch.

In a district where 41.8 percent of all students is African American, 48.7 percent of the district’s 137,180 students qualifies for free or reduced lunch, according to CMS figures.

The district’s partner in this effort, New Leaders for New Schools, has similar arrangements in Baltimore, Chicago, Memphis, Milwaukee, New Orleans and Washington, D.C., among others.

Over the next six years, New Leaders will recruit, train and support more than 50 principals destined for high-poverty schools. CMS has not determined which schools would qualify. Robbins said decisions would be based, in part, on vacancies. At least 37 CMS principals are eligible to retire by 2014, the district said.

New Leaders said it will seek “outstanding individuals with an unyielding belief in the capacity of all children to achieve at high levels.”

“This represents an enormous stride forward for the district,” Gorman said in a press statement. “The principal is the key lever for change at any school. That’s why this partnership, with its innovative approach and commitment to academic excellence, is so important for CMS."

Each principal under the program is expected to make a long-term commitment to the district. CMS will set a goal that each school led by a New Leaders principal for at least five years will have 90 percent to 100 percent of its students achieving proficiency in core subjects.

Last year, for exmple, only three of the districts 167 schools met that goal on reading exams. Neither was a high-poverty school. (That figure does not include new schools that opened this year.)

New Leaders will begin taking applications immediately.

Applicants must have K-12 classroom experience. Many of the people chosen in other cities often come from non-academic settings, such as businesses, foundations and the U.S. military.

For more information, go to www.nlns.org, or call (704) 858-7968. The deadline to apply is Feb. 17. Training begins in June.

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