Longtime Lexington-Richland School District 5 superintendent Stephen Hefner plans to retire at the end of the school year.
Hefner, who has been Lex-Rich 5’s superintendent since January 2011, made the announcement during Monday’s school board meeting.
“Serving as superintendent of District Five is an honor of the highest order,” Hefner said in a news release. “I love public education, and I love this job. I have been blessed beyond measure. After 24 years as a superintendent, I believe that it is time for me to move on to the next season of my life.”
District 5 has done well academically and financially under Hefner’s leadership.
Hefner helped secure two multi-million-dollar federal Magnet School Assistance Program grants, including a $10.3 million grant in 2013 and $13.7 million grant announced in September.
The district’s academic accolades also continued under his leadership, including top ratings, leading test scores and consecutive No. 1 school district rankings by Niche.com.
“Under his inspiring leadership, District Five has enhanced its legacy of academic excellence, while building new schools, establishing a national model for career-focused education, creating choice for students and parents, and improving the safety and security of our schools,” District 5 school board chairman Robert Gantt said in a news release. “He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will last for many years to come.”
In 2015, Hefner became the only superintendent in S.C. history to receive the S.C. Association of School Administrators’ Superintendent of the Year award twice.
Prior to his tenure as Lexington-Richland 5 superintendent, Hefner was superintendent of Richland School District 2 from 1994-2010.
An advocate of public school choice, Hefner has been credited with launching and fostering several magnet programs in Richland 2 and District 5. An estimated 15,000 – or 1 in 7 – students in the Columbia area are in magnet programs, in part due to Hefner’s efforts to bolster magnets.