Cash Says Charlotte Job Offers More Reform Work

By Bill Dries

Memphis City Schools superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash said he feels like his time in Memphis is growing short even if he doesn’t get the job as superintendent of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina.

Cash is one of three finalists for the CMS position and returned Thursday, April 12, from two days in Charlotte where he met school board members, schools officials, parents and the media.

“If they choose me, I still have to choose back. At my age and stage of development, I’m very selective,” Cash told The Daily News. “That was the only place I applied. I haven’t scatter shot anything.”

Cash spoke specifically about his bid for the Charlotte job after speaking at the end of a rally in East Memphis for the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative, the teacher evaluation, professional development and retention work Cash has spearheaded with $90 million in funding and support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a matching $20 million from local nonprofits.

Cash told the group of 500 at The Racquet Club that Memphis is further along than Charlotte in such reforms.

Cash said later, he still feels attached and protective of the Memphis reform efforts and has some hesitancy about leaving them.

“I still do feel that this work is not finished. I’m about a year away I think from that. If the opportunity arises and all things are met, I probably will accept,” he said of the Charlotte position. “We do have very, very capable staff. I just think we’re in a limbo on the leadership and administration of the district while we’re heading toward the merger. That concerns me. It gives me a little pause in all of this.”

The merger of Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools starts August 2013 and Cash as well as SCS superintendent John Aitken are already working with a 23-member countywide school board. The move to consolidation began in late 2010 and Cash had deep reservations about it and the impact it would have on his reform agenda.

“I love this city. I love everything we’ve done,” Cash added. “But I do feel that even if this doesn’t materialize, I’m on short time here.”

Whoever is picked in Charlotte will succeed Peter Gorman, a reform-minded superintendent who was in Memphis earlier this year to speak to the schools consolidation planning commission about reform efforts in Charlotte.

“Pete Gorman is a colleague and was trying to do a lot of these things with a little different roll on it,” Cash said. “They’re on not a parallel but a similar track and that’s because the whole country now is trying to gear up and anticipate the rigors of the common core state standards.”