RALEIGH — On Feb. 9, Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Catty Moore announced she would be leaving the district at the end of the current school year.
Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS) is the state’s largest school district and the 15th largest in the country with over 20,000 employees, of which only just under 11,000 are classroom teachers. The district oversees 198 schools.
In a news post on the district’s website, Moore said her last day with WCPSS will be July 1. She was hired into the role in 2018. At that time, she was touted as the first Latina superintendent for the district.
I make this decision with a heavy heart but with undeniable confidence in the WCPSS community moving forward,” Moore said in a statement on the district’s website. “Our school system has been a part of my life and my family’s life since 1988 when I joined the district as a teacher at Enloe High School. How lucky am I to have been a part of our community as a parent, teacher, administrator, and, for the last five years, Superintendent.”
Moore’s statement did not cite a reason for her departure nor any hint at her future plans. Her resignation follows the WCPSS board of education approving an extension of her contract just last October. Her current base salary of $328,504.
“As board chair, I want to acknowledge that our Board has work to do to maintain excellence in leadership beyond July 1,” WCPSS Board Chair Lindsey Mahaffey said in a media statement. “I extend my deepest gratitude to Superintendent Moore for her leadership and dedication to this district.”
Mahaffey also indicated WCPSS would hear a presentation on Feb. 21 from the North Carolina School Boards Association on a process for a national Superintendent search.
Moore began working in education in the Nash-Rocky Mount Public School System. Prior to being named superintendent in 2018, she served for seven years as the district’s deputy superintendent for academic advancement and taught French at Enloe High School in the late 80s.
As with her predecessors, Moore’s annual budget proposals exceeded the district’s funding levels despite drop-offs in enrollment that started before the pandemic which continued both during and after.
WCPSS’ enrollment has topped over 160,000 in the past, but as of the second month of the current school year, the average daily membership stands at 158,412. During the 2020-21 school year, enrollment was 157,673 but the year prior it had been 161,907. A decade ago, the district’s enrollment level stood at just over 153,000, according to figures published by WCPSS.
To meet expanded budget proposal figures, Moore and the school board made additional funding requests, often for millions more, to the county commissioners.
Related to funding, Moore spearheaded getting two new school bond issues put on the ballot that was eventually approved by voters. The $1.1 billion combined total for the two bonds rivaled the district’s annual budget which currently sits at $1.94 billion.
Moore also championed increasing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion measures in the district and was a key figure in penning the district’s first “equity policy.”
The pandemic and its aftermath took up the bulk of the superintendent’s term which presented a number of challenges, including student achievement. While the district typically sees better annual academic performance than the rest of the state, like other districts, WCPSS has also had declining scores on state standardized tests after the pandemic.
Both Moore and the school board both faced pressure from parents over stringent COVID-19 restrictions and policies put into place by the district. In particular, the district faced criticism over what appeared to be blanket rejections of mask exemption requests.
During and since 2020, the board has continued to see parental objections on a number of topics such as Critical Race Theory training, inappropriate books, controversial gender ideology materials, focusing on diversity and social issues over that of student achievement, and issues with transparency by the board.
WCPSS joins the state’s second-largest district of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CMS) in a search for a new superintendent. CMS’ board voted 7-2 to fire Superintendent Earnest Winston last April following concerns over his handling of a series of student sexual assault allegations in the district.