By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Greetings, Queen City residents, and welcome to a day of decisions in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools board members prepare to fire Superintendent Earnest Winston over his leadership style. A trio of local Walmart stores are under fire after choosing to overcharge customers, while Mecklenburg County commissioners will decide whether to make it easier for families to access subsidized child care.
It is Tuesday, April 19, and here is what every resident of the Queen City needs to know until tomorrow.
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What happened: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students are set to return to class from spring break on Tuesday, but Superintendent Earnest Winston may be plotting a leave from the district after news broke Monday that he would be ousted at Chair Elyse Dashew's request. A final decision on Winston's employment status is expected to come Tuesday during an emergency meeting scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
Readers can view the meeting here or check back tomorrow to learn the outcome. The group is expected to take the matter to a vote and announce an interim replacement for Winston.
Why it matters: If the board does terminate Winston, they will have to shell $577,000 out to the district leader due to a clause in a contract extension approved in February of 2021 that would last through June 2025, per WCNC.
The news comes amid a turbulent year for CMS, which has grappled with reports of sexual assaults, gun violence and unapproved cheek swabs while dealing with mass student and teacher absences due to COVID-19. In March, Winston presented to the board his recommendation for a $1.7 billion operating budget that would align CMS teachers' pay rates with the highest in North Carolina.
Winston spent less than three years on the job after being hired to replace Dr. Clayton Wilcox, who assumed the superintendent role in 2017. For more on Winston's time at the job, check out The Charlotte Observer's timeline of his tenure.
2. Overcharging observed: 3 Charlotte-area Walmarts cited for excessive prices
What happened: Continuing a trend first witnessed in February, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services continued its crusade against businesses ripping customers off on retail prices by fining to three Walmart locations and two Dollar General stores around Charlotte.
All found in the first three months of 2022, the erroneous excesses range from 3% to 40%, resulting in $10,000 fees for both the Dollar General at 10018 Albemarle Rd. and 7322 The Plaza. The Walmart at 7735 North Tryon St. faced a $9,785 penalty, the store at 3240 Wilkinson Blvd. paid $3,510 and the 3209 Pineville-Matthews Rd. outlet coughed up $6,185.
Why it matters: The news follows reports from February that North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said he takes price gouging laws "very seriously" and promised to "aggressively go after it," according to WECT.
The Ace Hardware in Indian Trail, North Carolina, was one of the first stores to be cited for gouging, per a separate WCNC story. The same station reported in early April that the Tar Heel State had seen a rise in price gouging complaints amid fluctuating gas prices.
3. Commissioners and child care: Meck. Co. leaders to discuss $10.5M in care subsidy
When the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners meets for its regular meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, the 10-member group could sign off on a proposed initiative that would provide affordable child care to 700 children residing in the county. The subsidized daycare and learning opportunities would cost the county $10.5 million.
Other business items slated for tonight's meeting include an update on Mecklenburg's American Rescue Plan expenditures, an annual update from the county's Women's Advisory Board and the county's latest COVID-19 metrics.
4. Sports reports: New England makes chowder out of Charlotte 2-1, are the Panthers pondering Baker Mayfield?
FC's fifth loss: Roughly a quarter of the way into their inaugural season as Charlotte's first MLS team, Charlotte FC finds itself ranked eighth in the League's Eastern Conference with three wins and five losses to its newly minted name. The most recent notch on the team's belt is shaped like an "L" and comes courtesy of the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Though the Charlotte team spent more than half the game with the ball, New England got off to an early start when striker Adam Buska shot wide of starting Charlotte goaltender Krisijan Kahlina at the eight-minute mark. Another 64 minutes passed before Revolution midfielder Matt Polster kicked past Kahlina at 72 deep before Charlotte striker Christian "Titi" Ortiz attempted to even it out with a goal 13 minutes later.
Panthers may want Mayfield: The Carolina Panthers may have missed the boat on quarterback Deshaun Watson and his 22 pending civil litigation suits, but reports show the team has its eyes on one of the vestiges from the team that did nab Watson: Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield.
Conflicting stories posted by outlets like Sports Illustrated, Panthers Wire and CBS on Monday paint a confusing portrait of the team's intentions with Mayfield, who completed 253 of 418 passes for the Browns while missing three games due to an injury in his non-throwing shoulder.