LAURINBURG — Scotland County Schools Superintendent Rick Stout will leave his post next year for the same position in Onslow County, a system that serves more than 24,000 students.
The Onslow County Board of Education announced Stout’s appointment late Thursday.
Stout said that leaving Scotland County will not be an easy move, but that leading a larger district will not be without its rewards. Onslow County is home to 37 public schools, more than thrice Scotland County’s total.
“It’s an opportunity for me and a large school system with 26,000 students,” he said. “Along with that comes the benefits of salary and those types of things that I’m looking at when getting ready to retire.”
Onslow County Schools have been searching for a new lead administrator since longtime superintendent Kathy Spencer announced her retirement in late June. In a press release, the Onslow County school board cited Stout’s “visionary” leadership and “reputation as an excellent communicator that will never compromise in the pursuit of educational excellence” in its hiring decision.
Scotland County Schools ended the 2013 school year with 6,055 students to Onslow’s 24,657.
“Really it’s been a difficult decision to leave Scotland County — the people there are wonderful and my staff and the teachers there are wonderful,” Stout said.
Stout was hired by Scotland County Schools in 2009 at a yearly salary of $153,000. His contract was not due to expire until 2017, as the school board traditionally extended it annually by one year.
The current salary of the Onslow County superintendent is $221,644. The exact amount of the salary Stout would collect was unavailable Thursday.
Before selecting Stout, the Onslow County Board of Education conducted community and staff surveys regarding the qualities of the system’s new superintendent.
Members of the Scotland County Board of Education declined comment, but the board has called a special meeting, to be held at noon today in the A.B. Gibson Education Center. The board is scheduled to immediately enter closed session to discuss personnel.
Stout will begin his tenure as Onslow County superintendent early in 2014. The contract of Onslow’s interim superintendent expires on Jan. 31.
“I think Scotland County is moving forward and it’s a great opportunity for someone coming in behind me,” Stout said.
Prior to his hire in Scotland County, Stout worked as the associate superintendent in the Beaufort County schools and an assistant superintendent with the Alamance-Burlington school system.