NC superintendent hires new senior policy adviser

Posted January 30, 2018 4:27 p.m. EST
Updated January 30, 2018 6:16 p.m. EST

North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson at Ephesus Elementary School in Chapel Hill on March 15, 2017.

— North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson has hired a new senior policy adviser for his office. This marks the third position he has created and hired from a $700,000 fund of taxpayer money, which lawmakers granted him to add staff to his office.

Erika Berry will begin the job on Feb. 5 and make $80,000 a year, according to the superintendent's office. She previously worked as director of external affairs for RePublic Schools in Jackson, Miss., education policy adviser for the lieutenant governor of Mississippi, executive director of the Mississippi Charter Schools Association, advocacy coordinator with the Mississippi Coalition for Public Charter Schools and as a middle school math teacher in Charlotte.

In a statement, Johnson said he is excited to have Berry join the team.

"Her experience both in education and in public policy will make her a valuable addition. Having been a teacher in North Carolina will give her an excellent perspective as we work to help every North Carolina student succeed," Johnson said.

Berry joins two other advisers in the superintendent's office – Lindsey Wakely, senior policy adviser and chief legal counsel, and policy adviser Kevin Wilkinson.

In her role, Berry will research and review policies, legislation and education issues at the direction of the superintendent and make recommendations, assist with implementing policies and initiatives and support communications surrounding policies and priorities.

The superintendent previously hired a community outreach coordinator at $72,346 a year and an administrative assistant at $38,867 a year with the $700,000 appropriation.

The money allows Johnson to create up to 10 full-time positions and hire staff without approval of the State Board of Education, a key provision lawmakers granted him as he battles the state board in court over control of the public school system.

Johnson has previously said he also plans to hire a chief of staff and a chief innovation officer, but it's unclear when he will make those hires. He has declined to say what other positions he may create.