Callicutt a finalist for Horry Co. position

Fort Mill schools Superintendent Keith Callicutt is among three finalists for the superintendent's job in Horry County.

Callicutt's name was among those pared down from more than 80 applicants to lead Horry County's district of around 37,000 students. The Horry County school board announced the finalists late Friday.

Callicutt told The Herald on Saturday night that he was contacted about the Horry County job by a colleague and, after discussing the opportunity with his wife, decided to apply.

"We have family in that area. I've heard a lot of interesting things about the school district there," he said.

That he's applied for another superintendent's post doesn't mean he's unhappy in Fort Mill or that his work in the fast-growing district is finished, he said.

"The people here in Fort Mill have been absolutely marvelous. It's without a doubt one of the best school districts in the entire country," he said. "No unhappiness whatsoever. ... If this doesn't work out, I hope to be here awhile."

Callicutt said the Fort Mill school board, his administrative staff and the district's principals were aware he's applied for the Horry County job.

School board Chairwoman Jan Smiley said Saturday that should Callicutt not be offered the job, or decide he's not interested in the job, "I'm sure he's still going to be 100 percent committed to Fort Mill.

"I think he's really expressed over the past three years how committed he is to the people of Fort Mill," Smiley said.

Callicutt was selected to be the top administrator in the Fort Mill school district in 2005 after having served as superintendent of the Newberry County school district since 2001. The Fort Mill district, the fastest-growing in the state, now has around 8,600 students and continues to grow rapidly, thanks to its reputation for excellence and the community's proximity to Charlotte. Last week, district voters overwhelmingly approved nearly $96 million in bonds to pay for three new schools, more school sites and upgrades at the Nation Ford High School football stadium.

"This is a tribute to the entire school system," Callicutt said Tuesday after the bond proposals passed. He said the outcome was "testimony that this community trusts us. We have such an obligation to maintain that."

Should Callicutt leave the district, Smiley said there would be no reason to worry.

"The school district is so much more than just one person," she said. "There are so many competent staff people at the district office and so many competent teachers in the school district."

Also candidates for the Horry County job are Cynthia Elsberry, superintendent of the Talladega County School District in Florida and Brian Binggeli, an assistant superintendent of Fairfax County (Va.) Public Schools.

The finalists will go to the area next week to visit schools, meet staff and community members and participate in final interviews with the school board.