by Josh Lanier
MONROE – Union County Public Schools promoted one of its own this week to replace retiring Superintendent Ed Davis after a nationwide search.
Deputy Superintendent Mary Ellis was announced Tuesday, May 16, as his replacement to a standing ovation from teachers and school staff.
“I think we’re getting someone who knows the specific needs of Union County schools, knows the direction we want to go in and really cherishes what’s already (been) accomplished since she’s been such an instrumental part in many of those successes,” said school board chairman Dean Arp.
Ellis spoke only briefly to the standing-room-only crowd to say she understands the financial constraints on the system, but still expected continued excellence from her teachers and students.
“I pledge to you we will do the right thing 100 percent of the time for children,” Ellis told the crowd. “Principals, you don’t know how much I look forward to working with you in this new capacity. Let’s remember our heritage. Let’s remember those who have gone before. Let’s build on the good things that have been done by others in the Union County Public School system. There’s not an “I” in team. It’s all us.”
Although some portions of her benefits package are still being discussed between her and county lawyers, Ellis will be paid $190,000 a year for a four-year contract. That’s about $10,000 less than Davis makes now.
Ellis will assume her new position July 1, but until then, the school system has a great deal of work left to do, school board members said. The school system’s funding is still in flux as the rift seems to grow between the school board and county commissioners.
“It’s something that I’m definitely keeping an eye on,” she said. “But until July 1, Dr. Davis will still be superintendent. I do want to say that I am an optimistic at heart, and I believe the county and the school system want the same thing — to create a school system they can be proud of — and I want to believe that it will all work out for the best in the end.”
Ellis is a Union County native and a Piedmont High School graduate. She received her undergraduate, masters and doctorate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and has worked in Union County schools as a teacher and administrator for 33 years.
“I think she is going to be a wonderful superintendent,” Davis said. “I think people are going to realize very soon what a perfect pick this was.”
Davis will leave his post June 30 and said he hopes to spend his newly found free time with his father and family.