CMS shuffles the principals at Spaugh and Berry
Berry Academy of Technology will get a new principal and Spaugh Middle will lose one tapped to reverse low performance, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced Monday.
As part of the administrative shuffle, Curtis Carroll, a CMS area superintendent who once led Harding High, will be the new principal at Phillip O. Berry.
Denise Watts, principal at Bishop Spaugh Community Academy, will be promoted to Carroll's job.
The shake-up started because Donald Fennoy, who has led Berry for the last 31/2 years, took a supervisory job with New Leaders for New Schools, a national effort to recruit nontraditional leaders for urban schools. He will be executive director for Baltimore and Prince Georges County, Md.
Berry is a countywide magnet school that got off to a rocky start when it opened in 2002. In May, the school won national honors for the progress it has made.
In 2006-07, the year Fennoy arrived, Berry had a 57 percent pass rate on state exams. Last year, after CMS stopped admitting students who didn't pass eighth-grade English and math exams, it was 76 percent. This year it was 84 percent on the first round of testing, and 89 percent after some who failed retook the test.
But a new challenge looms: Berry is one of four magnet high schools losing neighborhood bus service because of budget cuts.
Starting in August, students must either get themselves to school or go to shuttle stops at other high schools for rides to and from Berry.
Fennoy said he believes families will work out car pools and other options. He said he's confident that Carroll will help Berry continue its progress.
"The future's extremely bright," Fennoy said Monday.
Carroll was principal of Harding, another magnet school near Berry on Charlotte's west side, from 1999 to 2006, when he left to take a job in Florida. Superintendent Peter Gorman hired him back in 2007 to lead a new Achievement Zone that supported 11 low-performing schools.
Gorman and the school board abolished that zone as part of the 2010-11 budget cuts. On July 1, Carroll was slated to take over a new central zone supervising 20 high-poverty middle and high schools.
Gorman said Carroll asked to return to a principal's job to have more contact with students.
William "Mack" McDonald, president of Berry's PTSA, said families are disappointed at losing Fennoy, but encouraged by Carroll's good reputation at Harding.
Gorman will ask the board next week to approve Watts as Carroll's replacement.
In March 2009, Gorman asked Watts to move from Mint Hill Middle to Spaugh, CMS's lowest-performing school, as part of his "strategic staffing" effort. That plan gives principals 10 percent pay raises to make a three-year commitment to shaping up schools.
Watts just completed her first full year at Spaugh. Gorman said one of her first acts in the new job will be naming her replacement.
And while all applicants will be considered, he said one of the things that impressed him about Watts is the strong administrative team she developed at Spaugh.
Watts brought Assistant Principal Jan McIver with her from Mint Hill Middle. And New Leaders for New Schools, the group that hired Fennoy, sent principal-in-training Alison Harris to learn from Watts last year. Before signing on with New Leaders, Harris worked for Fennoy as an English teacher at Berry.
Improvement efforts at Spaugh aren't complete, Gorman said, but Watts "believes there are people now that she has started to turn the ship who can keep it going in the right direction