CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Superintendent Dr. Crystal Hill has not fully moved into her new office at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ headquarters, but she has begun to push forward with a number of initiatives and goals she believes can right the track of a school district which, at times, has seen derailments.   

Hill sat down with Queen City News Friday evening, exactly one week after her hire. She was previously serving as interim superintendent

She acknowledged that the district has places where it has failed, and those are areas that need to be improved immediately to gain whatever trust has been lost.   

“Customer service, and then engagement with the community in general,” Hill told Queen City News Reporter Daniel Pierce. “That’s not just with our parents and families but also our engagement with communities partners.” 

At a news conference last Friday, Hill acknowledged the history of disconnect between CMS and county leaders.   

It was a well-known fact to her during her time at Cabarrus County Schools.   

After her appointment to interim superintendent in January, Hill said she began to hold regular meetings with community stakeholders.   

“From the recovery of COVID, and changes in leadership, and everybody just trying to get their feet back underneath them,” Hill explained, “we’re just poised for a great opportunity.”

Her leadership role, however, will include a first-year trial over the conversation of “Choose your school,” which would impact the funds made available to public schools across the state.   

While she was welcomed competition on the education front, CMS has been losing battles for school bus drivers (many leaving to CATS offering higher pay) and educators to private and charter schools.   

“Public charter schools, and then you have traditional charter schools operating on two totally separate rules of operation,” Hill stressed. “Which then makes it very difficult for public schools to maintain enrollment.” 

“I do believe our state needs to take a very close look at the way both traditional public schools operate and charter schools and that entire funding model and it really does need to be equitable.”   

Though the start of the new school year is still a summer away, Hill has mapped out four major goals she feels the district should and will hit before students return to class.   

Those include:   

  • Hiring her internal staff, principal and teachers  
  • Enhancing safety within campuses, and training staff on after survival techniques  
  • Pushing leaders on each campus to meet and get on the same page with everyone  
  • Finding ways to engage students more in the classroom.   

CMS has found that several students still have not consistently return to class since the COVID-19 pandemic began.   

In meetings with those students, leaders learned students do not feel engagement.   

Some students even told administrators they felt school was invaluable because they also had a job which paid them well.   

When asked what the district will do to address the lack of engagement, Hill said, “Students should have a four-year plan the moment they get to high school. That begins in eighth grade. You select those high school classes. And, if you don’t have a plan, you’ll just find yourself taking all of these random classes. That’s when they’re not engaged because that’s not what they’re interested in.”  

Hill’s contract will run until June 2027.