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Longtime superintendent Stephen Hefner to retire

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Lexington-Richland School District Five superintendent Stephen Hefner will retire at the end of the current school year, Hefner told a school board meeting on Monday night.

“Serving as superintendent of District Five is an honor of the highest order,” Hefner, who has led the district since 2011, said in a statement. “I love public education and I love this job. … I believe that it is time for me to move on to the next season of my life.”

In 2014, Hefner was named the South Carolina Athletic Administrators Association Outstanding Superintendent, and in 2015, he became the first superintendent in state history to receive the South Carolina Association of School Administrators Superintendent of the Year award twice.

In a statement confirming Hefner’s retirement, Lexington-Richland Five pointed to the establishment of magnet programs as highlights of Hefner’s career. Hefner helped secure a $10.3 million Magnet School Assistance Program federal grant in 2013 and a $13.7 million grant announced in September.

The district also earned consecutive top rankings from school- and neighborhood-centered website niche.com for stellar ratings and test scores during Hefner’s tenure. In ranking the district No. 1 in the state for 2018, the website awarded it A-plus grades in the categories of teachers, administration, clubs and activities, sports, and health and safety. The district earned As in college prep, diversity, resources and facilities, and food categories and an A-minus in academics.

Hefner also served as superintendent for Richland School District Two from 1994-2010. He received the Order of the Palmetto in 2009 and was named the Educator of the Year by the S.C. Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development in 1997.

“Under his inspiring leadership, District Five has enhanced its legacy of academic excellence while building new schools, establishing a national model for career-focused education, creating choice for students and parents, and improving the safety and security of our schools,” said Robert Gantt, District Five school board chairman. “He will be sorely missed, but his legacy will last for many years to come.”

Hefner, who has a bachelor’s degree from Southeast Missouri State College and a master’s and doctorate from the University of South Carolina, began his career in education in 1974 as a school counselor at Spring Valley High School, a position he held for 20 years.  

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