Charleston County could see more collaboration, less dysfunction on school board with new members
Charleston County voters appeared to elect a diverse slate of school board candidates Tuesday, who could be more collaborative and less dysfunctional.
The new members are John Barter, Tom Ducker and Michael Miller, according to unofficial election results. Incumbents Chris Collins and Chris Fraser also were re-elected. Incumbent Brian Thomas lost his seat.
Results for the board’s downtown seat were unavailable late Tuesday but could become known as soon as today.
In West Ashley, where two seats were up for grabs, Barter, a retired business executive, had 26 percent while Miller, a barbershop owner, had 24 percent of the vote, with all 182 precincts reporting.
Barter said he has gotten to know those who were elected and thinks they will make decisions in the best interest of kids.
“As long as everyone has that goal ... we’ll be able to work together to find the answer,” he said.
His top priorities are making Vision 2016 an effective strategic plan, squeezing more out of the budget, putting more resources into early childhood education, and ensuring the best people are hired and retained.
“I’m going to work on those every meeting,” he said.
Miller said he was ready to create a board that the community would be proud of and that would put children first.
“We have different dynamics, and I think the board is good, especially when it’s diverse, because each member has his own strength,” he said.
He has ideas about what should happen in the district, and he wanted to get as much information as he could to ensure it sets reasonable expectations as it moves forward.
In North Charleston, where two more seats were open, Collins, a pastor and small-business owner, had 44 percent of the vote while Ducker, a retired military colonel, took the second spot with 28 percent, with all 182 precincts reporting.
Collins said he was grateful the community re-elected him to a second term, and he said he feels he understands the district better and can make the right decision for everyone.
On the makeup of the new board, Collins expected the first few months to be “rocky” as members with diverse backgrounds and different mindsets started working with one another.
“We may get lucky and get a good start,” he said.
Ducker said he thought this would be a good board, and he could work with any of those elected.
“Most of us are talking about the same kinds of things that need to be done,” he said, citing developing a district vision, strategy, goals and objectives and asking the superintendent to meet those.
He said he would like to see more specifics on the long-term plan the superintendent created as well as develop a plan beyond 2016.
“I want to see us develop a Vision 2020,” he said.
The school district’s governance structure includes constituent school boards, and 23 of those seats were up for grabs.
Only four of those seats were contested, and the winners on the District 23 (Hollywood) constituent school board were Blanche Bowens, Josephine Matthews, Francenia Nelson and LeRoy Seabrook, according to unofficial election results.
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.