DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Interim Superintendent Catty Moore said processes are already in motion to help solve the ongoing pay crisis at Durham Public Schools (DPS).
The school district announced Thursday night that Moore would serve as interim superintendent effective immediately. That announcement came shortly after Dr. Pascal Mubenga announced his resignation Wednesday amid an ongoing pay dispute that's resulted in staff calling out of work and forcing schools to close.
Moore spoke with ABC11 on Friday and said she's already in communication with different teams about proposals to right the ship at DPS.
"There are already conversations happening. There are already proposals out there. There's already communication that's occurring," she said. "Really what I have to do as an interim is catch up to speed with where these communications have been, what information has been shared, what the background is, what happened, and then join those that are already working."
Moore said it was important to do everything possible to get students back into classrooms and learning.
"The priority right away is to make sure that the communication and the collaboration is happening allows the comfort level that is needed so that the primary focus and duty of educating kids on a daily basis is not interrupted."
ABC11 has learned that interim Superintendent Catty Moore will be paid $25,000 per month as she serves in the role. She's contracted to work from February 9 through September 30. That means she'll be paid approximately $192,241 in total.
She said that salary is already built into Durham's budget, but she agreed that there is a problem with what educators and staff are currently being paid.
"The ability to focus on compensation is an issue across the board, that there is tremendous pressure that's being put on local school systems and county commissioners to provide support that has not been provided by the general assembly," she said.
Moore is a familiar face in the education field. She served as superintendent for Wake County Public School System from 2018-2023.
In October, Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Moore to the North Carolina Board of Education. She has been cleared to continue to serve in that role while also serving as interim superintendent for DPS.
"My colleagues and I on the State Board of Education are pleased with the news of Catty Moore's appointment as interim superintendent of Durham Public Schools. We know Ms. Moore is equal to the task and DPS will benefit from her wealth of talent and experience. The statutes governing appointment of State Board members allows for this dual responsibility and we will work with Ms. Moore, as we do with all our Board members, to ensure conflicts of interest are avoided," NC Board of Education Chairman Eric Davis said in a statement.
"We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Catty's knowledge and experience step into this role and help us lead Durham's public schools. She is the right person for this job, and we look forward to working with her to support our students and staff," said Bettina Umstead, chair of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education.
Moore retired from WCPSS at the end of February 2023 and is now a member of the NC State Board of Education.
She has worked in public education for more than 35 years as a teacher, principal, and school system administrator. During her 15-year career as a leader in the Wake County Public Schools, Moore played a substantial role in passing policy promoting equity, while also negotiating several bonds and funding increases for the school system.
Emotions were high Thursday night at the staff development center.
Classified staff along with the teachers association were overjoyed the board voted to keep February checks the same as they have been. But they're still worried about what happens after that.
"I'm happy about February at least...live to fight another day," DPS electrician Malcolm Gay said.
Gay is one employee who gets to keep the extra thousand dollars he's been getting in his paycheck for at least one more month.
"The budgets being the way it is in everyone's household, extra dollars can do a lot," he said.
The board voted to use another $700,000 to make employees whole for Feb. after massive financial errors in the district led to the resignation of the superintendent, and CFO in January.
Two weeks ago the Durham Board of Education decided to use nearly $5 million from its rainy day fund to let employees keep the money they were
originally asked to give back.
Documents show a lack of communication between finance and human resources throughout the year as new salary schedules were put in place.
No options put before the board would allow employees to keep making what they have been.
"When that was taken away, it took away that want and drive," said Tammy Phillips, who has been the transportation manager for the northern part of Durham for 27 years.
She is hopeful the district will come up with a compromise.
"I love the job. If you work in transportation, you have to love the people, love the students, love each and every bus driver because they are there for the children,' she said.
The school board will launch a formal search for a new superintendent this month.