Since April, the local private school has been shaken by the dismissal of headmaster Bobby Dawkins.
Dawkins had been with the school for 29 years and attempted to clear the air at a retirement banquet Saturday.
The well-loved headmaster said the Newberry Academy board has three functions to set policy, oversee finances and hire a headmaster.
“I worked at the mercy of nine people,” he said.
In April, the board decided that Dawkins’ contract would not be renewed.
Dawkins says he had hoped to work for two more years before retiring but was told he needed to retire in June.
After a couple of days off and talks with his family, he retired on April 26.
He said one reason was the decline in enrollment, which is a trend in many rural private schools because of the economy.
The enrollment at the school has gone from a high of 343 students to 180 this year.
Dawkins said his sudden departure was due to the word of his dismissal leaking into the community before he was told. In fact, his pastor broke the news to him and students were discussing it in class before the board told him.
“It is time to hire a new headmaster and I think an announcement will be made in the next week,” said Dawkins. I hope the enrollment will increase and the Academy will keep going. It will break my heart if it doesn’t make it.”
Since it was formed in 1965 and the early days of the school being located in the West End community; the school property on Smith Road is now appraised at $2.2 million and has an annual budget of $800,000.
It has also gone from just going to the eighth grade to having a high school.