Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Sumter County Schools Superintendent Frank Baker is retiring, as the district continues to deal with ongoing concerns about its finances.
The school board announced Tuesday night they'd agreed to a deal for Baker and the district to part ways. Baker will retire at the end of July, less than a month before the school year starts.
Baker has led the district since 2013.
The Board of Trustees was in an executive session for almost three hours Tuesday night. When they returned, the chairman read a statement, saying the Board of Trustees and Dr. Baker mutually agreed that Baker would retire at the end of the month.
The chairman also said they believe this is the best interest of the students and the Sumter community.
"We know this has been a very difficult time for everyone, but we appreciate the patience of our students, staff and community at large while we work through the district's issues. We have much work ahead, but together, our children will receive the education they deserve," said Rev. Daryl McGhaney, the chairman.
However, the district has been battling to make up for a $6.2 million deficit. Budget cuts were made at the beginning of the year, but that did not solve the problem. A few months ago, it was suggested that two schools---F.J. DeLaine Elementary and Mayewood Middle--would shut down, but that idea was defeated, at least for the time being.
The idea of closing the schools came from a financial consultant who was brought in for advice to help the district fix their woes.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division still has an investigation into the district after an anonymous letter was sent to the sheriff's department claiming finances in the district were misspent on personal items.
The news of Dr. Baker retiring brought mixed emotions from the crowd at Tuesday's meeting.
"We are very pleased with the outcome that Sumter has the opportunity for new leadership. I think it's long overdue, so we are pleased with the opportunity to move forward for the benefit of our children and the Sumter community. I have been outraged - outraged that the situation occurred, that it lasted so long, that we didn't have the kind of leadership that would step up and make the necessary changes. I think that since the situation has been so prolonged, that continuing damage has occurred," said Angela Frederick.
There were members of the crowd that did not agree, but they would not talk on camera. They said it's not just one person's responsibility for the financial problems.
There is no interim superintendent for the school district at the moment, but the Board said it will name one in the coming days.
The Board will also announce it's plan to conduct a search for a permanent superintendent in the near future.