Beaufort Co. Schools administrator to leave 1 year after Moss appointed her in 11th hour

A look back at Jeff Moss’ run as Beaufort County School District superintendent

Dr. Jeff Moss has resigned from his position of the Beaufort County School District superintendent. Here's a look back at his successes — and controversies — that surrounded his career the last five years.
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Dr. Jeff Moss has resigned from his position of the Beaufort County School District superintendent. Here's a look back at his successes — and controversies — that surrounded his career the last five years.

Beaufort County Schools’ chief instructional officer — who was appointed to the position in 2018 by former superintendent Jeff Moss shortly before Moss left the district — will retire June 30, the district confirmed Monday afternoon after the position was posted on the schools’ website under job openings.

Bonnie Almond, who has more than 30 years in education, previously worked under Moss in Lee County, N.C., where she had been a high school principal.

She came to Beaufort County in July 2013, the same month Moss started with the district and a week after she had accepted a promotion in Lee County for an administrative position that would have paid $15,000 less than her South Carolina offer, according to a report in the Sanford Herald newspaper.

Almond was one of the three district employees reporting directly to Moss who had written letters of recommendation for him in 2017, which he submitted as part of his 2018 application to become state superintendent of schools for Alabama.

She will leave the district just one day before new superintendent Frank Rodriguez starts.

During her six-year tenure in Beaufort County, Almond held four positions and saw her salary increase by nearly $30,000.

She began as director of secondary education and, in 2016, became the district’s director of innovation, a high-paying position created by Moss the previous year.

“Educators who’ve worked with Bonnie Almond know what a strong and capable professional she is, and I’ll be excited to see what she accomplishes in her new position,” Moss said in a district news release at the time.

Moss came under widespread public scrutiny for the director of innovation position in 2015 when it was discovered that his wife had originally been hired to fill the role. He later pleaded guilty to two state ethics violations for allowing the hire.

Almond served in that position for less than a year before becoming principal of Beaufort High School, for which she had received a salary of $109,000, making her the second-highest-paid principal in the district at that time, according to previous reporting by The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

A year later, she was appointed to the chief of instructional services position, which resulted in the high school having three principals in as many years, according to previous reports in the newspapers.

Moss appointed Almond to the position two months before leaving the district in July 2018, after the terms of his resignation had been signed, according to previous coverage.

“With an interim superintendent coming in shortly, I would like to see Dr. Moss stand down on any large promotions or new hires of senior staff within the district,” school board member JoAnn Orischak said at the time.

As chief of instructional services, Almond was responsible for developing instruction and curriculum for the district and reported directly to the superintendent. She received a salary of $122,240.

She was slated for contract renewal in 2019-20, according to district spokesman Jim Foster.

Finding the district’s next chief of instructional services will likely be one of Rodriguez’s first tasks as superintendent. The advertised salary for the position is between $98,804 and $138,881.

Almond and Rodriguez met last week, when he stayed in the county for four days to meet with district administrators, teachers, principals and County Council members, according to Foster.

Rachel Jones covers education for the Island Packet and the Beaufort Gazette. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and has worked for the Daily Tar Heel and Charlotte Observer. Rachel grew up in Ayden, NC, surrounded by teachers.