List defines community's desires in interim Sumter supt. - - Columbia, South Carolina |

List defines community's desires in interim Sumter superintendent

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School board members adjourn their meeting Thursday evening. School board members adjourn their meeting Thursday evening.

The Sumter School District's superintendent's resignation has parents frustrated with the lack of answers from the district's board members on who the interim superintendent will be. In an effort to speak out, concerned community members compiled a list of qualities they want in an interim superintendent.

A day before the board's next meeting, more than 60 community members created a list to define the individual they think the community can easily rally behind to revive the school district. They want an interim superintendent who is from Sumter and is aware of the current state of affairs; has no connection to the Broad Institute, which is where resigning superintendent Randolph Bynum received his educational training; has superintendent and educational experience; a decision-maker who is firm in discipline, school finances and student well-being; not a micro-manager and is a transparent individual.

"We think the school board needs to be able to listen to what the community is saying here, even if we don't all agree," said Nicole Williams, a Sumter School District parent. "We don't want any more divisiveness or anger."

Among those at the community meeting was school board member Karen Michalik, who was able to leave the meeting with the complete list of qualities. Michalik tells WIS she plans to share the list with the other board members at tonight's meeting.

"I thought the list was well thought out, and I am happy to support it," Michalik said. "I was elected to do the will of the majority, and I plan to continue doing so."

Williams said Michalik's presence at Sunday's meeting was well-received by the community.

"We were surprised, but grateful she was there," Williams said. "We would love all of our school board to come out and be a part."

Sumter School District experienced a lot of controversy during Bynum's two-year tenure. Bynum came to Sumter from Atlanta and started implementing new programs that did not gain majority favor from teachers, staff, parents and students. As teacher morale started to drop, community members got involved to be the voice for those who feared losing their jobs.

"It's been quite a divisive couple of years," Williams said.

On July 1, board members gave Bynum two weeks to create a game plan to address the many issues dogging the district. Bynum canceled the implementation of an instructional audit program – SWEET16 – and postponed moving the standardized-based report cards to higher grades. 

Then Bynum announced his resignation July 23 without any further public knowledge regarding a plan to target the district's other issues.

Board members held meetings July 22 and July 25, but during both gatherings, board members did not address any of the public's concerns surrounding who will be named interim superintendent, the search for a superintendent or the status of the testing controversy surrounding Sumter High School and its principal Sterling Harris.

Instead, board members ended the July 22 meeting after public comments. And on July 25, board chairman Keith Schultz read a statement simply acknowledging the board is aware of the delicacy of an interim superintendent being named.  Each time, the board sets another date for a meeting, usually days after the last, with meeting agendas that call for an executive session and a line item for action to be taken.

The next board meeting is tonight, July 29, at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium at Alice Drive Middle School. Currently, there is no line item for public comments on tonight's agenda.

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