062217 Schools: District plans for changes in leadership
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Schools: District plans for changes in leadership

By Charles Swenson

The Georgetown County School Board is due to name principals at three schools, including Waccamaw Elementary, next week. The hirings will set off a series of changes around the district, Superintendent Randy Dozier said, that will continue over the next year and will eventually include hiring his replacement.

“I don’t really have a timeline yet,” he said of his position. “It’s coming to an end. It’s something we have to consider.”

Dozier has been superintendent since 2003. He came to the district in 1999 as deputy superintendent and he envisions that the district will hire his replacement when it hires a new deputy to replace Celeste Pringle, who is due to retire. “I had that conversation with the board,” he said.

The shift in school leadership began with the announcement this spring that Vervatine Reid would retire as principal of Waccamaw Elementary. Richard Neal then left Carvers Bay High to take a job as director of human resources for the Horry County School District. The third spot came open this month when Genia Smith, principal at McDonald Elementary, was named director of student performance, replacing Patti Hammel, who retired.

“When you fill these vacancies, it dominoes,” Dozier said.

He told the school board earlier this month to prepare to replace “a number of people in this room, including myself, over the next year or two.”

“It took me by surprise,” School Board Chairman Jim Dumm said. Dozier’s contract runs through 2020 and he has said he wants to see the projects in the district’s $165 million bond referendum completed. “That’s still a few years,” Dumm said. The first of those projects will start this summer.

Dozier said he has been working on a succession plan for the district leadership for a few years, with vacancies coming up for human resources and special services directors. “This has been a gradual process,” he said.

Dumm was on the school board when Dozier and his predecessor, Chuck Gadsden, were hired. He has served 22 years and “I don’t know if I’ll be around” to hire the next superintendent, he said.

He recalled that the district considered candidates from outside the district before settling on Dozier. “I think he was a good choice,” he said. “We’re really going to look long and hard at whoever’s going to be the next deputy superintendent.”

The district also needs to hire senior members of its financial staff, Dozier said. The finance director, Lisa Johnson, also plans to retire. “The real challenge is business and finance,” he said. “That’s a specific skill set you should have.”

The immediate focus is on the principals. An open house in Georgetown was held Wednesday for candidates for all three vacancies.

There were five finalists for the two elementary posts: Mack Burgess, assistant principal, Andrews Elementary; Ashley Cameron, assistant principal, Georgetown Middle; Maurice Cobb, assistant principal, Kensington Elementary; Jay “Tripp” Hartley III, assistant principal, Georgetown Middle; and Kimberly Nesmith, assistant principal, Andrews Elementary.

Candidates for Carvers Bay High included Adam George, assistant principal at Waccamaw High; Paula Anderson, assistant principal, Andrews High; Tracy McCants, assistant principal, Andrews High; O’Randal Jackson, assistant principal, West Florence High; and Craig Stone, assistant principal, Carvers Bay High.

“We actually started this process in April. I anticipated that we’d have some people move up and some retirements,” Dozier said.

And given the candidates, the hirings will now create new vacancies.

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