Fort Mill Times

Fort Mill superintendent is finalist for similar job in Horry County

Dr. Keith Callicutt
Dr. Keith Callicutt

Callicutt may leave

FORT MILL -- Fort Mill Superintendent of Schools Keith Callicutt is among three finalists for the same job in Horry County.

Callicutt was selected from more than 80 applicants for the job of leading Horry County's district of more than 36,000 students. The Horry County school board announced the finalists late last Friday.

The Horry County position could include a pay package ranging from $200,000 to $250,000 a year, including benefits, Horry County Schools Spokeswoman Teal Britton said.

This is the second round of finalists identified for the top schools job in Horry County since the previous superintendent left in the summer of 2006, Britton said. None of the three previous finalists had the kind of experience the board members were looking for last time, according to Britton, who didn't specify what the board is looking for this time.

Similar to York County, Horry is a border county and a relatively well off one. Like in Fort Mill, one of the major challenges the district there faces is rapid growth, though percentage wise it is not growing as fast as York County. The district added 10,000 students in the past decade, Britton said. She added that state and federal scholastic achievement measurements seem to have hit plateaus in the past couple of years.

Callicutt said 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 is unhappy in Fort Mill or that his work in the fast-growing district is finished, Callicutt 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 a while."

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.

According to School Board Chairwoman Jan Smiley, should Callicutt not be offered the job, or if he decides he's not interested in the job, "I'm sure he's still going to be 100 percent committed to Fort Mill."

Callicutt said he was not very concerned about the fact that this is the second round of finalists applying for the superintendent's job in Horry County. It raises a couple questions, he said, but he doesn't necessarily see it as evidence of a divisive board atmosphere.

"If none of the candidates meets the board's expectations, the board shouldn't make a bad decision just to hire somebody," he 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 approximately 8,600 students.

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.

Callicutt is scheduled to be in Horry County today for more interviews and to visit schools and meet community members, Britton said. The Horry County School Board could make a decision by Thursday.

• The Sun News of Myrtle Beach contributed to this report.