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Letter: NEW SCHOOL YEAR, NEW SCHOOL LEADERS

BY FRANK RODRIGUEZ 

I am excited to share some information about the district’s new principals who will lead schools in this publication’s readership areas:

Michelle Brockway, an assistant principal at Hilton Head Island Elementary School since 2014, will replace outgoing HHIES principal Sarah Owen, a veteran educator with more than 25 years of experience, who decided to return to her love of teaching at the secondary and collegiate level. Brockway began her educational career at Hilton Head Island Elementary School, having held various positions there and at the Hilton Head Island School for Creative Arts for the past 22 years.

Tracy Lanese, an assistant principal at Okatie Elementary School since 2021, replaces longtime principal Jamie Pinckney, who retired. Lanese has been with BCSD for 23 years as an elementary teacher, interventionist, and assistant principal at our South of the Broad schools.

Clinton Austin, an assistant principal at May River High School since 2017, will take the helm at Hilton Head Island Middle School. He has served Beaufort County School District for a decade, having held educational positions at Bluffton Middle School and May River High School, in addition to coaching athletics at Bluffton Middle and High schools.

School security

I know a top priority for many families is school safety. BCSD has a strong relationship with our local law enforcement partners. In fact, the morning after the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas unfolded, our district held a joint press conference with law enforcement agencies from across the county, reinforcing our solidarity and partnership in support of school safety.

Additionally, we have School Resource Officers (SROs) at all our middle and high schools. As the state continues to fund two SROs per year, we plan on adding them to elementary schools. In the meantime, we have armed security guards at our elementary schools.

Combatting the national teacher shortage

As many are aware, there is currently a teacher shortage across the nation. Every day we are competing with districts throughout the country and state to recruit and retain educators. This proves especially difficult, given the high cost of living in Beaufort County.

But, I am excited to share that this summer Beaufort County Council approved the district’s submitted budget proposal for the 2022-2023 school year. This budget was also unanimously approved by our board of education with the intention of attracting and maintaining superior educators and staff, supporting the District’s commitment to increased student outcomes.

The salary for BCSD starting teachers is now $45,566 in comparison to $37,928. Coupled with additional supplements, the total compensation package for starting teachers in the 2022-2023 school year is now $50,066. (And, this pay bump is not just for new teachers.)

BCSD is now one of the top-paying districts for educators in the state of South Carolina.

Fulltime classified staff, to include bus drivers, will also see salary increases.

Beaufort County has amazing educators and support staff whom I appreciate. I am also grateful to our Board of Education and County Council for supporting these salary increases that will help us recruit the best and the brightest teachers and support staff in the state to serve our students.

By focusing on compensating our staff, we are really focusing on our students, directly benefiting the future of our region.


Frank Rodriguez is Superintendent of the Beaufort County School District.