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Teambuilder, visionary among characteristics Sumter School District board seeks

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Sumter School District's Board of Trustees is looking for a teambuilder and visionary in its next superintendent, and someone preferably with an earned doctorate degree and previous superintendent experience, among other criteria.

Board Chairman the Rev. Daryl McGhaney discussed the various qualifications and personal characteristics that all the trustees agreed were important in the upcoming search for a new, full-time superintendent following a work session Thursday night at the district office.

Directly after the work session began at 5 p.m., the board went into executive session behind closed doors for more than two hours to allow each trustee to share those characteristics that he or she thinks are critical in the next district superintendent.

After the board returned to open session about 7:20 p.m., it took no action related to the executive session, but McGhaney did later share the consensus qualifications and characteristics that all board members agreed upon.

Those qualifications include an earned doctorate degree preferred, but not mandatory; and superintendent experience preferred, but not mandatory.

McGhaney said the trustees also agreed school district-level experience is required for the superintendent post, and the individual should have an expectation of excellence in the school district.

As far as personal characteristics, board members agreed they're looking for a teambuilder, visionary and a proven leader, McGhaney said. Other characteristics desired by the trustees include someone who's inspirational, values input from principals and teachers and cultural diversity, and finally an individual who's willing to move and live in Sumter, according to McGhaney.

The board didn't discuss a timetable Thursday of when it will begin the official search process, but McGhaney said that will be announced at some point relatively soon.

Debbie Hamm, a longtime employee and former superintendent of Richland School District 2 in Columbia, has served as interim superintendent of the district since Aug. 1.

Hamm will serve in her post until the next, full-time superintendent comes on staff -- which could be next summer after this school year concludes.

Hamm replaced former Superintendent Frank Baker, who retired effective July 31, after months of turmoil following the revelation in December of a financial crisis with the release of the fiscal year 2016 audit report. That report showed the school district overspent its budget by $6.2 million in fiscal year 2016 and had an ending general fund balance on June 30, 2016, of $106,449 -- a critically low level, according to the district's auditor.

The school board's next regularly scheduled meeting is Monday at 6 p.m. and will also be at the district office, 1345 Wilson Hall Road.