Two Daniel Island residents with children enrolled in local schools met Monday's deadline to file as candidates for a seat on the Berkeley County School Board.
Doug Cooper and Karen Smith are looking to fill the District 2 seat vacated by Dan Kingsbury, who is relocating to the Columbia area. The district includes Daniel Island and parts of Hanahan and Goose Creek.
The Berkeley school board is divided, and the open seat could tip the balance of power. Some board members generally support district initiatives put forth by Superintendent Chester Floyd, while others have made a point of pushing for greater fiscal accountability.
Both candidates are well-known in the community and have a history of school involvement.
Cooper, who moved to Daniel Island in 1999, has a 10th-grade daughter at Hanahan High School and a seventh-grade daughter at Daniel Island School. The general manager for McNaughton-McKay Electric Co. served as an active Parent-Teacher Association member as his children attended elementary and middle schools in Hanahan.
Cooper said his business experience proves he's adept at bringing differing sides together. "I know there's a lot of dissension on the board right now, but I'm not interested in going there to sit on any side of the table," he said. "I want to keep an open mind and listen to everyone's issues."
Cooper said he's primarily concerned with how the district plans to address growth. He said he's already reviewed district data that show the number of schools approaching capacity.
Smith has served as president of the Daniel Island School's PTA for the past two years after moving to Daniel Island four years ago. She also led the Daniel Island Neighborhood Association's education committee and serves on the School Improvement Council.
The Daniel Island PTA is one of the most active groups at any Lowcountry school and raised more than $400,000 last year to pay for additional foreign language, arts and media programs not covered in the district's budget.
Smith, the parent of a sixth-grader, said she'd like to replicate the school's success by helping other schools partner with local businesses. The Adopt-a-Teacher program at Daniel Island has brought business leaders into the classroom and involved them in the day-to-day challenges facing schools, she said.
A licensed certified public accountant in Pennsylvania who has applied for her South Carolina license, Smith said her knowledge of finances could help during school board budget discussions. She said she also would push for the school district to potentially hold meetings in different locations across the county.
The special election will be held Feb. 5, with only voters who live in District 2 and who have registered by Jan. 4 eligible to vote.