“It’s an obvious next step in my career,” Benson said Tuesday. The Virginia school district announced the new hire Monday night.
Benson, who moved to Cobb from Virginia in 2003 to serve as the principal at McEachern High School, began his career in education in Virginia in 1988 at the high school he graduated from, Woodbridge High School in Woodbridge, Va.
“It’s an area that I’m familiar with,” he said. “We lived (near) there for the first 10 years of our marriage.”
His wife, Shelley, has been a preschool and kindergarten teacher at McEachern United Methodist Church in Powder Springs for seven years.
Benson said the timing of the move is appropriate because their son, Samuel, is a middle school student at Lovinggood, and it will be a good “transition year” before he gets into high school.
“I have some family up there as well,” Benson said. “I have been privileged to work with so many good colleagues. It’s going to be very difficult. I’m very appreciative of the good memories here.”
Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa said he was proud that Benson was hired by the Virginia school district.
“Mr. Benson has many talents that he displayed here in Cobb that will serve him well as a superintendent,” he said. “Many districts around the country know that there is tremendous talent in Cobb County.”
Hinojosa said that the district has not found anyone to replace Benson but that there is a “sense of urgency” due to his reporting date in Virginia.
Benson’s first day in Virginia is July 1. According to a local online newspaper, fredericksburg.com out of Fredericksburg, Va., the school board approved a four-year contract that would run through June 30, 2016, and pay him $134,400 a year, up from the $106,000 a year he is paid in Cobb.
He will also receive a benefits package including a $425 monthly vehicle allowance, $5,000 annually for annuity or deferred compensation, health and life insurance, cell phone services and $10,000 in moving expenses.
The district has around 5,000 students in three elementary schools, one middle and one high school, Benson said.
Benson was promoted in 2007 to the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction under former deputy superintendent Dr. Steve Constantino, who left the district in 2011 after accepting a superintendent job at Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools in Virginia.
He also worked with Constantino in the 1990s at Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, Va.
Benson was one of six people named to Hinojosa’s new cabinet after being named an area assistant superintendent for southwest Cobb in the fall, and the only one to not receive a pay increase.