Lexington One’s new superintendent receives contract extension

School board gives Gregory Little a vote of confidence six months in to his tenure

New Lexington County School District One superintendent Gregory Little has received a thumbs-up from the school board.

Barely six months into the job at the county’s largest school district, board members recently gave him a vote of confidence following a mandated interim performance evaluation, and rewarded him with a one-year contract extension that runs through June 30, 2020.

Gregory Little (Lex 1)

Lexington One Superintendent Gregory Little receives a demonstration while visiting Lexington Middle School earlier this year. (Photo by Lexington School District One)

For now, he will continue to draw his original base salary of $199,000, which makes him the highest-paid public official in Lexington County, including Sheriff Jay Koon, County Manager Joe Mergo, and every other superintendent in the five-district county.

“In light of Dr. Little’s extraordinary progress assimilating into the district and its communities, the board looks forward to the district’s continued success under his leadership,” board Chairwoman Debra Knight said.

The board commended Little on his ability “to quickly build relationships and create partnerships, to provide support for administrators through leadership training, and to interact positively with parents, students, teachers, and staff.”

Little, who was hired in January and started work officially May 2, has been busy getting his arms around a large, constantly growing school district that dwarfs the one he led in Mount Airy, N.C., which consists of just four schools. Lexington One, by comparison, boasts 30 schools and a student-enrollment approaching 25,000.

In his first months, Little has spent much of his time meeting with staff, students, community members, business owners, and local residents.

Little barnstormed as many departments and schools as he could before the previous school year ended and held community meetings in the Gilbert, Lexington, Pelion, and White Knoll communities.

At those meetings, Little took time to not just talk to the individuals he met, but also to listen to their stories about the things they like about Lexington One, the things they’d like to change, and the things they’d like the district to do next, district officials said.

Little, a vigorous proponent of STEAM, which integrates the arts into the popular concept of STEM-based education (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) has 18 years of educational experience with four of those spent serving as superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools.

Little’s hire came after a months-long search begun in the summer of 2015 by a district-funded executive search firm that resulted in approximately 50 candidates. In the end, Little beat out another superintendent from Louisiana, and Lexington One Chief Operations Officer Jeffrey Salters, a longtime district official with no teaching or school-administration background.

While board members now express their comfort and confidence in Little, several board members at the time of his hiring had lamented the limited pool of qualified applicants from which to draw upon.

“As a board we realize there is not an abundance of excellent school superintendents,” Knight said at the time. “In fact, there is a shortage of superintendents in South Carolina and across the nation.”

Despite that, Knight added she thought the board made the right hire to guide one of the state’s top school districts.

“Our board believes that Dr. Little is the best fit for Lexington One at this time,” Knight said this past January. “His educational expertise and experiences will benefit our district as we continue our quest to create college- and career-ready graduates….”

“It has been a very hard process, but it has been a very rewarding process,” board member Cindy Smith said when the board announced Little’s hire. “I think you’re going to love Dr. Little. He, to me, is what Lexington One is. He’s just an excellent person, and I think he’s going to fill the role well.”