Vot­ers should seize chance to to­tally re­boot school board

The Island Packet (Sunday) - - Opinion - The Is­land Packet and Beau­fort Gazette Ed­i­to­rial Board

Lit­tle is cer­tain in life, but this much we know: The Beau­fort County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion must change.

Tues­day’s elec­tion pro­vides that op­por­tu­nity. Vot­ers can end years of board dys­func­tion.

Cou­pled with the depar­ture this sum­mer of for­mer su­per­in­ten­dent Jeff Moss, a chance now ex­ists to put an em­bar­rass­ing chap­ter be­hind this county for good, and re­build pub­lic trust that the old school board and su­per­in­ten­dent frit­tered away.

A good start has al­ready been made be­cause three mem­bers of the “Moss ma­jor­ity” on the board de­cided not to seek re­elec­tion.

Now, two more of them – Evva An­der­son in District 7 and Cyn­thia Gre­gory-Smalls in District 3 – need to go, and both face solid op­po­nents.

It is cru­cial, for the good of the stu­dents, staff and gen­eral pub­lic, that the old way of con­duct on the board and from the su­per­in­ten­dent be erad­i­cated.

With­out new trust – with new board mem­bers and new lead­er­ship – the pub­lic sup­port needed to solve school crowd­ing in boom­ing Bluffton will not be there, to use one ex­am­ple.

This elec­tion of­fers many good op­tions for new blood on the board.

It’s ob­vi­ous that the pub­lic strongly agrees that change is needed be­cause 20 can­di­dates came for­ward for seven open seats on the 11-mem­ber board. That is a great sign, and in some cases it is an em­bar­rass­ment of riches as top­notch can­di­dates com­pete within the same district.

Our rec­om­men­da­tions to achieve a new day with a new board are as fol­lows:

District 2: In­cum­bent David Striebinger earned re­spect af­ter win­ning a spe­cial elec­tion for an un­fin­ished term, and he now de­serves a full term. He came to the board to hold Moss ac­count­able, and he did that with­out be­ing con­tentious. He has

the tem­per­a­ment, knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence to be a great player on the new board.

District 3: Wil­liam Smith lost by three votes in the last elec­tion to Smalls, but he has re­mained in­volved and shows an en­ergy and will­ing­ness to chal­lenge the sta­tus quo. He would bring a new face to a seat that needs change.

District 4: In­cum­bent Joseph Dun­kle has earned the vote for re-elec­tion be­cause he has been a solid fighter for pub­lic in­for­ma­tion and trans­parency on the board, and has con­sis­tently stood up against a some­times bul­ly­ing ma­jor­ity. His oppo- nent, Tricia Fidrych, who just fin­ished more than 16 years as a Beau­fort County class­room teacher, would be a solid ad­di­tion to the board. But Dun­kle has been in the trenches dur­ing the dark­est days of the board’s dys­func­tion, cham­pi­oning the pub­lic’s right to know.

District 5: Richard

Geier is the clear stand­out in a strong field of four can­di­dates. He’s closely plugged into board and school district is­sues, has board lead­er­ship ex­pe­ri­ence and has the right ideas on trans­parency and how to hire a new su­per­in­ten­dent. District 7: Chris Davey would bring a fresh ap­proach to this Blufftonarea seat now held by An­der­son. A new level of trust is manda­tory here to get so­lu­tions to the school­crowd­ing prob­lems of this district. Davey has been in­volved as a par­ent and served on a com­mu­nity com­mit­tee that tack­led Bluffton’s school growth is­sues. He sup­ports greater trans­parency, has com­mon-sense ideas and shows an abil­ity to work with oth­ers. District 8: John Eddy is the stronger of two for­mer ed­u­ca­tors in the race. He has been at­tend­ing board meet­ings for the past two years and has sound views on what is needed to right the ship.

District 10: Hilton Head Is­land vot­ers can­not go wrong in this twop­er­son race. Melvin Camp­bell would bring the voice of a long­time teacher and coach in the lo­cal schools. And he would bring the na­tive-is­lan­der, Gul­lah world­view as a mem­ber of one of Hilton Head Is­land’s old­est and most out­stand­ing fam­i­lies. But Peter Kris­tian would of­fer an en­er­getic, de­tai­lo­ri­ented ap­proach that would serve the board and the county well.

Beau­fort County faces a dras­tic prob­lem with its school district, and most of these 20 can­di­dates stepped for­ward specif­i­cally to right that wrong. That is en­cour­ag­ing. Plenty of tal­ent is there to start a new day.

Please vote.

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