New Beaufort Co. schools superintendent is looking for someone to be his ‘No. 2’

Six weeks into his new job as Beaufort County School District’s superintendent, Frank Rodriguez is bringing a new position — and a hefty salary — with him from Florida.

Rodriguez received approval Saturday from the Board of Education to create a new position for a deputy superintendent, who will supervise all 30 schools and their principals.

Previously, all principals reported directly to the superintendent, something Rodriguez said was a weakness he noticed while interviewing with the district and shadowing predecessor Herb Berg, who served as interim superintendent for a year.

“I will be in schools frequently, but the demands of the superintendent job make that harder,” he said.

Rodriguez served in a similar role in his last job as a regional superintendent in Palm Beach County, overseeing principals and schools that serviced 58,000 of the district’s 193,000 students. In a phone interview Monday afternoon, he said that his schools saw a 20 percent increase in top marks from the state during his tenure.

However, Rodriguez said the deputy superintendent will have more contact with district staff and more authority as his “No. 2” than he did in Florida.

District spokesman Jim Foster said the deputy superintendent’s salary will be between $106,454 and $149,468, in the same range as similar positions in comparably sized school districts throughout South Carolina.

Aiken County School District has four executive directors of schools, who will each make between $98,324 and $132,476 this year, according to the 24,000-student district’s pay schedule. Richland 1’s five school directors made between $108,749 and $156,096 last year, with 28,000 students.

Rodriguez said the position will be “cost neutral” with the district’s $254 million budget for 2019-20, with funding coming out of support services that don’t include classroom materials or teacher salaries.

The board voted 10-1 to approve the position. Board member Rachel Wisnefski called the decision a “no-brainer.”

Board member John Dowling said he has seen a need for the position.

“I had a constituent call me up and the first thing they said was ‘How did Dr. Rodriguez after 45 days decide he needed a deputy?,’” he said at a board work session Saturday. “And I said, ‘Honestly, I’m surprised it took him more than 45 minutes.’”

JoAnn Orischak voted no, saying she wanted to see an efficiency study of the district before adding a new position.

Rodriguez said Monday he plans on doing a study before the next school year, and that it could result in the district being organized “differently, in a cost-neutral way.”

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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.