By Al Dozier

At Monday’s school board meeting District 5 Superintendent Stephen Hefner announced he will retire at the end of the school year.

He has served the district since January of 2011, leading one of the most successful districts in the state. Some district staffers say he is the best superintendent the district has ever had.

Before coming to District 5, he also had a successful tenure as superintendent of Richland District 2 for 16 years.

“Serving as superintendent of District Five is an honor of the highest order,” Hefner said at Monday’s meeting. “I love public education, and I love this job. I have been blessed beyond measure”

But after 24 years as a superintendent, Hefner said he believes it is time to move on to “the next season of my life.”

Asked if he has plans to take on another job after he leaves, Hefner said he does not. He said he means it when he says “retire.”

Hefner has long been an advocate for magnet schools and has helped the district secure millions in grants for new programs in several schools.

District 5 has continued to thrive academically under his leadership as students received high ratings in the state and nation on test scores.

Hefner has always had a good relationship with board members and generally has enjoyed the respect of the community. He did come under fire along with members of the school board on a recent decision to build a new elementary school on Amick’s Ferry Road in Chapin. Homeowners in the neighborhood have been protesting for months that the location is not suitable because of heavy traffic and limited access.

Hefner has received numerous honors during his career in education, including the “Friend of Gifted Education” Award from the S. C. Consortium for Gifted/Talented Education in 1995 and Educator of the Year award by the S. C. Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development in 1997

Board member Robert Gantt said the district “will continue to move forward” with Hefner’s help during the transition to new leadership.