LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC — Lexington 2 school board members praised outgoing superintendent Venus Holland Friday as a “driving force” in improving instruction during her six years in charge.
The commendation came after Holland announced her retirement in mid-2015 as the top manager of education of 8,500 students in 16 schools in Cayce, Pine Ridge, South Congaree, Springdale and West Columbia.
Efforts to reach Holland, known as an enthusiastic leader for the schools she oversaw, were unsuccessful Friday.
But she told board members in a letter that “I am not going to be able to work as long as I had originally indicated.”
She is stepping down after “much prayerful consideration” to help handle a family matter, the letter said.
The statement from board members also praised her for “steady leadership” in guiding Lexington 2 through layoffs, furloughs and other cutbacks after state aid declined during a recession three years ago.
One of her last challenges will be helping shape a package of new schools and renovations – a plan whose preliminary price tag is more than $200 million – that could go to voters for acceptance as soon as Nov. 4. The plan would raise property taxes by an amount undetermined yet.
Holland rose through the ranks from social studies teacher to principal to administrator and superintendent during 27 years in Lexington 2. She will stay through June 30 next year as one of four women in charge of school operations in the Columbia area.
She is leaving “on her own terms,” board chairman Bill Bingham said. “She was under no pressure.”
Her notice allows “plenty of time for a nice, smooth transition,” he added.
In coming months, board members will mull the type of new leadership desired and decide whether it is in-house as with recent choices or necessary to seek it elsewhere, Bingham said.
New way to hire temporary teachers
Lexington 2 school board members may bring in a temporary staff firm to handle substitutes when teachers are sick or absent for personal reasons.
The proposal is being examined as a test to help hold down the rising cost of health care insurance.
Some of the 150 fill-ins work enough to qualify for coverage and more are likely to do so in the future, officials say.
The plan is on hold, after some board members expressed concern about the quality of instructors that may be used if the step is taken.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.