Berkeley hopes to have new superintendent by May

Berkeley County Schools Superintendent Rodney Thompson

Berkeley County School District could name a new superintendent to replace Rodney Thompson by early May if all goes according to plan.

And that superintendent will likely have a starting salary that’s about $40,000 more than Thompson’s current pay.

The school board unanimously accepted Tuesday a proposed timeline that would have them selecting candidates for interviews by April 15, narrowing the field to three by April 24, and naming a superintendent by May 7.

“We want to be sure we beat the traffic,” said William Symons of BWP & Associates, the national educational leadership consultant the district hired to conduct its search. This week, BWP held meetings throughout the district to get community input for a leadership profile. “You want to be first in the block to offer a contract to the candidate that you choose. ... At the same time, you don’t want to try to do it too quickly.”

The goal is to have a new superintendent on the job by July 1. Thompson, who did not give a reason for leaving, plans to step down on July 31 and start a year-long continuing teacher contract as a social studies instructor in the district the next day. The board accepted his resignation Nov. 11.

Tuesday, the board also agreed to advertise the job with a salary of $210,000 plus benefits, depending on the candidate’s qualifications and experience. There is a lot of flexibility for negotiation with the benefits, Symons said.

“The salary is really a significantly important decision,” he said. “This is a tough one because you want to be able to get the number high enough to attract the candidates that you want to consider. At the same time, we also recognize that the number that you choose will receive some public scrutiny.”

The three districts with more students than Berkeley — Greenville, Charleston and Horry — pay $213,525 to $223,022, he said. Berkeley is the fourth-largest district in the state.

Charleston County School District also is looking for a new superintendent.

When Thompson, 47, was promoted from chief administrative officer to superintendent in 2011, his starting salary was $150,000 plus benefits, $45,000 less than Anthony Parker was paid in that position three years earlier. District officials said that was because Thompson didn’t have much administrative experience or a doctoral degree at the time. His current salary is $168,714.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.