by Tori Hamby

Hopewell High School students returning to school Aug. 27 will be greeted by a familiar face.

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board of Education tapped Michael Jones, a former Hopewell assistant principal, to lead the school during a July 24 board meeting. Former principal Louise Jones left last month after five-and-a-half years.

Michael Jones currently works as a zone administrator within the school system. He was an assistant principal at Hopewell from 2010-11.

He was an interim principal at Vance and Garinger high schools during the 2009-10 school year. Michael Jones worked as a teacher in Virginia before arriving to CMS in 2008 as an assistant principal at Vance.

Jones is currently enrolled in an educational leadership doctoral studies program at Gardner-Webb University. He earned his master’s degree in education from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004.

The latest CMS principal staffing shift also moved Long Creek Elementary School principal Chad Thomas to Bailey Middle School. The school district transferred former Bailey Middle principal Jennifer Dean to Martin Luther King Middle School this summer.

Thomas began as principal at Long Creek Elementary in 2007. Prior to that, he worked at Pawtucket Elementary School as principal for five years.  Thomas holds a master’s degree in school administration from UNC Charlotte.

School officials did not announce the name of Thomas’ replacement.

CMS approves record budget

After years of making cuts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools passed an all-time high $1.2 billion budget.

The budget, passed unanimously at the school board’s July 24 meeting, surpasses pre-recession funding levels by $8 million. Increased funding allows CMS to hire 85 high school teachers and technology facilitators.

All CMS employees will also see heftier paychecks in August. The budget provides for 3 percent across-the-board pay raises for workers.

About 5,800 hourly and 250 workers will receive market adjustment raises, based on a 2007 study that compares CMS wages to comparable school districts. The heftiest market adjustment raise approved topped out at $17,202 a year.

Rhonda Lennon, who represents the county’s northern schools, expressed some distress over the figure, before voting to approve the budget.

“I don’t understand (the $17,202 raise),” she said. “That’s going to be talked about in the media for a while.”

The school district will use $800,000 left over for superintendent Heath Morrison’s unspecified new initiatives. Another $570,00 will be put toward funding Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate exams for students.