Sumter School District adds 2 assistant superintendents

Both will support school excellence, leadership development

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Sumter School District is bringing on two new assistant superintendent positions to the district staff, officials voted Monday night.

The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the pair of positions with the same title of assistant superintendent for leadership and school excellence at its meeting Monday at the district office.

The positions were the idea of acting superintendent Debbie Hamm, given the district is undertaking several new academic initiatives, she said.

Norris Williams, formerly principal at Dutchman Creek Middle School in York County District 3 in Rock Hill, has been selected for one of the posts. Williams has been the Dutchman Creek principal since 2007.

Brenda Hafner, principal at Blythewood High School in Richland School District 2 in Blythewood, is the other selection. Hafner has been the principal at Blythewood High for nearly four years, according to her resume. Before that, she served as principal at Blythewood Middle School.

Both will begin in Sumter in January, according to district staff.

Salary negotiations for the new positions are not complete yet, Hamm said Wednesday. She did confirm, though, that both posts pay at least $100,000.

Hamm said as the position titles imply, "school excellence" and supporting increased academic achievement in all district schools will be a priority for Williams and Hafner.

Both will work directly with school principals to help to ensure activities in the district office are supporting academic achievement in the schools, according to Hamm.

"The positions will almost be like a liaison/coordinator of services so that we can have a laser-like focus on individual needs of schools and provide them with the support they need," Hamm said.

The district's schools will be divided into a manageable size, or cluster, for each of the two positions.

According to Hamm, Williams and Hafner will also help the district in the area of professional development of principals and others to create a strong leadership development program in the district.

Hamm also emphasized the number of new initiatives the district is conducting - such as adding magnet programs, a facilities study and the concept of a new technical high school - and that both new employees can help in those areas to better support school-level and district-level goals.

With the two additions, Hamm now has three assistant superintendents on staff.

District Chief Financial Officer Chris Griner was previously named interim assistant superintendent for finance and operations, according to Hamm, with the board's approval. Griner started with the district in July and earns a $140,000 salary.

Bus drivers to get pay raise

In other news from the board meeting, Sumter School District bus drivers will all be getting a $1-per-hour raise and a percentage step increase starting in January, officials voted Monday.

After receiving driver complaints and concerns about pay and hours worked in recent months, the school board unanimously approved the motion.