Florence District 4 superintendent decision could cost $306K

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Florence School District 4 leaders learned Friday if they move forward with their choice for superintendent, the district will have to pay the state more than $300,000.

In June, Florence District 4 school board members voted Florence County Councilman Alphonso Bradley into the front runner position for the district's vacant superintendent role. Because the district is still under state control, State Superintendent Molly Spearman said state officials and the school board needed to agree on who would lead the district. The state office does not support Bradley's nomination for the spot.

School board members argue that because the district is now fully accredited, the district should be able to decide who the next leader will be, and they have some political representatives on their side.

"That's what they are put there for," argues Rep Williams. "Their main occupation there, their main duties there as board members are to select a superintendent and to manage, come up with a budget for superintendent to run the school district."

School board chairperson Lillie Joe joined South Carolina Senator Kevin Johnson for a meeting with Spearman Friday afternoon to discuss what the board is legally able to do, and the consequences of that decision.

"We went in to find out exactly where we stand with the memorandum," confirms Joe.

A letter from Spearman says the memorandum, or agreement between the state and the board, requires the two parties to agree on a superintendent. If not, the school district must pay $306,000 by August 15.

Joe says the state and board did not come to an agreement on who should be the superintendent, but board members now know they have the ability to hire their own district leader, but it comes at a cost.

"We did find out the board does have the ability to hire a superintendent," says Joe.

With the school year starting next month, Joe says the board hopes to make a decision soon.

"We want to get somebody that has a heart for this district," explains Joe. "That is our key focus right now, is to get our district covered with the right individual."

Joe says the board will meet next week, although an exact date has not been set, and says the board will vote to hire a superintendent at that meeting.

Ryan Brown, chief communications officer for South Carolina Department of Education, released a statement in regards to Friday's meeting with Florence 4 school board chairperson.

"Immediate need is to select an experienced district leader who buys into the vision that has been set in the district and is committed to continuing efforts to improve educational outcomes for the students. We are hopeful to come to an agreement with the Florence 4 board in the next couple of weeks. If the board chooses to make a selection without the agreement of our agency then they would be in breach of the current MOA in place and would be required to repay funds currently owed immediately. We would continue to manage the elementary and middle school."

The school board chairperson would not comment on whether the board will support Bradley as the district's superintendent despite the high price tag.

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