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Heath Morrison offered CMS superintendent job

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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent candidate Heath Morrison addresses a luncheon at the UNC Charlotte Center City Building on April 12, 2012. David T. Foster III-dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has offered its open superintendent job to Heath Morrison of Reno, Nev., district officials announced Thursday.

CMS officials said the district is negotiating a contract with Morrison, who is currently superintendent of the Washoe County School District. The school board is expected to formally vote on his selection at a regularly-scheduled meeting on April 24.

The offer was announced Thursday at a news conference held at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

CMS has been looking for a permanent replacement for Peter Gorman, who resigned last year. Hugh Hattabaugh has served as interim superintendent.

Morrison was named a finalist for the CMS job earlier this month, along with CMS Chief Academic Officer Ann Clark and Memphis Superintendent Kriner Cash, who later withdrew from the race. All three finalists visited Charlotte last week, and each had strong support from various parts of the Mecklenburg community.

School board chair Ericka Ellis-Stewart praised all of the finalists, but said Morrison is “the right leader for CMS now. He brings energy and experience to the many challenges facing our district, as well as a strong commitment to excellence and achievement.”

Morrison has led the Washoe County district since 2009 and was named National Superintendent of the Year in February by the American Association of School Administrators. The district has 63,000 students, less than half the size of CMS.

Morrison previously worked as a teacher and administrator in Charles and Montgomery counties in Maryland.

During public appearances last week in Charlotte, Morrison said he supports a decentralized administrative structure, but does not support splitting CMS into a northern, central and southern district.

Morrison faced criticism for attending the Broad Superintendents Academy, which has been criticized for promoting a reliance on data and corporate management styles in school systems.

But Morrison said he attended the Broad program when he started getting superintendent offers, to learn more about education reform. He said it was valuable, but he learned more from his time as a teacher.

He said the most important metrics for performance are the graduation rate and whether students are ready for college or a job when they graduate. Morrison said more resources should be given to the schools with more needs.

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