After eight years, Dr. Chuck Benigno is leaving the Laurel School District to become a professor at William Carey University, he said Friday afternoon.
Benigno’s last day on the job will be Dec. 31.
“ It is never easy to leave a position that you love so much,” he wrote in an email send to members of the school board on Friday. “However, teaching at the college level has always been a dream of mine. I believe that the future of the Laurel School District is extremely bright and I have full confidence that the school board will select the right person to take us to the next level.”
Benigno said he will be working with doctorate-level students at William Carey.
“I am certain that the next superintendent will have great success,” he said. “We have talented students, dedicated adults, and a tremendously supportive and professional school board. I look forward to the upcoming months as we continue the important work of educating the children of Laurel.”
When hired, Benigno said the Laurel schools were entering the Decade of the Tornado, and pointed to the arts program at Nora Davis Elementary, the welding curriculum and the culinary arts program in the district as putting the Laurel schools in the right direction.
An avid football fan, Benigno said he will continue to follow Laurel athletics and will continue to be a presence on Friday nights Between the Bricks.
A search will start for a replacement for Benigno and he said the timing of his departure will allow for the next superintendent to come in during the school year and get to know the ways of the district.
Benigno was one of the highest-paid administrators in the state with a salary of $179,900 this year.
William Carey has two campuses, the main campus in Hattiesburg and the Tradition campus in Biloxi. It is accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges. It awards bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.