Fort Mill schools chief turns to task at hand after Horry pick

Fort Mill schools Superintendent Keith Callicutt said Thursday night that he is looking forward to "continuing our work here in Fort Mill" and has no plans to launch another job search.

"My energies will be dedicated to the task at hand," said Callicutt, who had been one of three finalists for superintendent of Horry County schools until Horry officials voted in open session at about 10 Thursday night. The Horry board unanimously selected Cynthia Elsberry, superintendent of Talladega County Schools in Alabama, district spokeswoman Teal Britton said by phone Thursday night.

"I'm relieved," Fort Mill school board Chairman Jan Smiley said after hearing the news. "Of course, the board is looking forward continuing to work with him. It's the time of year we sit down and set our board and superintendent goals. With the bond referendum just passed, we have architect interviews shortly. We've got a lot of work to do, and I'm glad our focus is going to be back on the job we're here to do."

Voters in the Fort Mill school district, considered the fastest-growing district in the state, just approved a nearly $96 million bond referendum to build two new elementary schools, a middle school, additional athletic facilities and buy land for future schools. The district already has two elementary schools scheduled to open in 2009 under construction.

Part of Callicutt's interest in the Horry post had been family ties in that area. He spent all day Wednesday in Horry County undergoing two interviews and formally meeting the community. On Thursday night, he said he thought Horry handled the process "extremely professionally."

"I'm happy the board made a decision they thought was in the best interest of their school district, because that's what every school board is charged with doing," Callicutt said. "They try to match their needs to the individual they think best meets them. I wish the new superintendent the very best in her endeavors."

Elsberry will report to work July 1, Britton said.

Callicutt, in his third year with the district, said he's ready to start planning "for the new facilities the community gave us the money to build. There's a great deal of work to be done."