D19 parents voice concerns, board hires new principal

First Byline: 
Jonathan Vickery - Managing Editor

The Barnwell District 19 School Board hired a new principal June 2 for its junior high and high schools, though it wasn't a unanimous decision.
In a 3-2 vote, the board approved the hiring of Sterling Harris, currently the principal of Brewington Academy in Sumter, as the new principal of Blackville-Hilda's junior high and high schools. Board members Carroll Priester and Ethel Faust opposed.
This followed an unsuccessful motion by Priester and Faust to retain Eryl Smalls as Macedonia Elementary Principal next year and hire Dr. Carolyn Anderson, who was hired last month as the new elementary principal, as principal of the upper two schools. That motion failed when board members Inell Waring, Steve McCormack and Jameka Hagood opposed. Smalls was not offered a contract as principal next year, though the superintendent said he will be offered contract somewhere.
Some parents in the crowd weren't happy with the decision to hire Sterling. Parent Bill Deloach asked board members after the meeting if they were aware Sterling had been investigated for test security violations.
"We are well aware," said Chairwoman Waring.
Superintendent Dr. Teresa Pope said they perform SLED background checks, among other measures, before hiring anyone. "He was cleared and has a clear SLED check," she said, otherwise, they would not have hired him.
Sterling was one of approximately 10 candidates to apply for the job held by David Norman, who is leaving for a job in Orangeburg. Pope said he was the candidate the committee tasked with finding a new principal recommended to her.
Sterling has 16 years of administrative experience, including in schools in North, Hopkins and Sumter. Pope said he comes highly recommended and has a history of turning around academics, something they need at the upper two schools.
Pope said they haven't negotiated a salary, but he will likely be paid close to what Norman is, which is in the mid to high $80,000 range. He begins July 1.
We will have more on the meeting, including other concerns raised and Pope's responses in our June 11 edition.