The Aiken County School Board voted Tuesday night to name King Laurence superintendent after an executive session that lasted nearly four hours.

Laurence, who had been the Aiken County Public School District's chief officer of administration, had been serving as the interim superintendent since the board accepted former superintendent Dr. Sean Alford's resignation in early September.

The school board held a special called meeting Tuesday that began at 6 p.m. The board voted to go into executive session, and just before 10 p.m. came out and announced it had voted on a contract of employment with Laurence.

The vote passed 7-2 in favor of Laurence's appointment with Patrice Rhinehart-Jackson and Cameron Nuessle dissenting.

According to Board Chairman Keith Liner, Laurence's employment contract would become effective Feb. 19 and would entail a three-year term of employment with an annual salary of $195,000 per year.

The contract was reviewed by all members of the Aiken County School Board, according to Liner.

After the meeting, Laurence said he was "thrilled" to accept the position.

"(I) think the next step is to just continue what we've been doing for the last several months," Lawrence said. "But, I think now, that the position has been solidified, so to speak, we can make some more long-term goals. I plan to talk to community members, talk to our teachers, talk to students, talk to parents, and really develop some plans moving forward that are truly going to make Aiken County a great school district the next three years."

Some of the longterm goals Laurence said he plans to address as superintendent include staff recruitment and retention, curriculum assessment and instruction, and discipline and safety in schools.

After Alford's resignation, three school board members resigned and a special election was held to fill the seats of Rosemary English from District 7, Tad Barber from District 8 and Ahmed Samaha from District 9. Nuessle and Rhinehart-Jacksongained their seats in the special election.

"In my opinion, I feel that the will of the people is being ignored," Rhinehart-Jackson said after the contract was read. "I am in disagreement with the process. Let me make that clear – it is not a personal decision against Mr. Lawrence."

Kristina Rackley is a general assignment reporter with the Aiken Standard.