School board votes to extend superintendent’s contract

COUNTY — On the agenda at Monday’s school board meeting was the renewal of Pickens County School District Superintendent Dr. Henry Hunt. In a 3-2 vote (board member Jim Shelton was absent during the vote), board trustees elected to extend Hunt’s contract with the district.
School board new comers Ben Trotter and Jimmy Gillespie both voted in opposition to the renewal of Dr. Hunt’s contract.
Hunt began his tenure as superintendent of the School District of Pickens County in June 2009. He has been a district-level administrator since 2000 when he was named SDPC Assistant Superintendent for Administration.
According to Julie Thompson, Communications Director for the Pickens County School District, Dr. Henry Hunt’s salary and compensation package remain unchanged in the 2011-2012 school year contract extension.
Board Chairman Alex Saitta commended Hunt for his strong leadership through the district’s comprehensive building program and massive reductions in state funding over the past two years.
“The district has faced two difficult issues: buildings and the budget. The district and board have had disagreements on the budget, but we are working through them thanks to Dr. Hunt,” said Saitta. “The building program is on schedule and on budget. Dr. Hunt’s done a great job, and we shouldn’t take him for granted. With these challenges in the past, he can now get the real focus on education.”
Board member Ben Trotter said that Dr. Hunt is one of the finest men he’s ever met, but this alone did not factor into Trotter’s vote in opposition of extending Hunt’s contract.
“Dr. Hunt has listened to the principals and advisory committee more than the board. He works for the school board,” said Trotter. “As an elected board, we would like to have more input into the decision making. Dr. Hunt doesn’t like to make anyone angry.”
Gillespie, who also voted against the contract extension, said he did not feel comfortable making a statement at this time. “It is a personnel issue. I’m not trying to hide anything or hold anything back,” said Gillespie. “There were a couple of things in the contract that I didn’t like. Nothing major. Until the contract is signed, I don’t feel comfortable making a statement.”
Hunt, who also served as principal at A.R. Lewis, Crosswell, and West End elementary schools during his career in education, said “The board has affirmed its support of me, and I will continue working with them to provide quality public schools in Pickens County.”
“I am committed to making the best decisions for our students, for regaining what has been lost during the budget crisis, and for moving this district forward,” he said. “ I ask the board for the same commitment.”
In his closing comments, Saitta said, “Dr. Hunt does a lot of things well that people really don’t see day to day because he’s a modest guy. But I see it and I think the rest of us do too.”