An attorney, an automotive technician, a businessman and an aspiring educator are competing for Rock Hill school board chairman Bob Norwood’s open seat.
Norwood isn’t running for the at-large seat in the Nov. 6 election.
In Fort Mill, seven candidates are running for three at-large seats.
They’re the most hotly contested races across York County’s four school districts. Candidate filing for those races closed at noon Wednesday.
At least three seats are up for grabs in each district. Each is governed by a seven-member board that hires the superintendent and sets policy for the district.
Two of four York school board incumbent candidates face a competitor. One of the three incumbents running in Clover faces a competitor.
In Rock Hill, four seats are open. No one filed to run against incumbents Ann Reid, Mildred Douglas and Walter Brown who are all seeking re-election. Short of strong support for a write-in candidate, they are poised to keep their seats.
At least one new face will join that board. The four candidates vying for Norwood’s seat:
• Tyrie Rowell, a 2009 South Pointe High School graduate, is eager to serve.
“I want to make a difference,” he said. “I want to give back to the community, because the community has done so much for me.”
At 21, Rowell said he would bring a youthful perspective to the board, which it hasn’t had.
“I know more about what the kids are expecting and what they need,” he said. “I can relate.”
Rowell said he is studying education administration and theater education at USC-Lancaster. He hopes to become a theater teacher. He also works part time at the York County Council on Aging and helps administer after-school programs for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
As a school board member, Rowell said he would focus on public outreach and getting a handle on what parents and teachers want from the board.
Terry Hutchinson, an automotive technician at Pep Boys off Cherry Road, said he decided to run because he wants to push the school board to do more business in public.
Hutchinson pointed to the way the district hired a new food service provider last spring. A committee of seven people, all but one of whom were district employees, met in private to evaluate proposals from two global food service companies. Citing procurement procedure, district officials refused to release details of the proposals until one had been accepted.
“There should have been more information made available to the public,” Hutchinson said. “There should have been more involvement from the public. Food services, that’s major. We’re talking about the food that kids eat.”
He also cited Superintendent Lynn Moody’s evaluation, which the school board conducts in a closed-door meeting for several hours before releasing an attorney-approved statement.
“I would be a voice that would be willing to say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, let’s look at this a different way,’” Hutchinson said.
Wayne Wingate, a Rock Hill businessman and former president of the York County Chamber of Commerce, wants to fill a void.
Norwood, an insurance salesman and former sign shop owner, is an advocate for the business community, Wingate said.
“He kind of filled a niche and represented a voice that isn’t there otherwise,” he said.
Since owner-occupied homes in South Carolina are no longer taxed to pay for school operations, it’s business owners who bear the brunt of school district tax increases.
While Wingate said he’s not “unilaterally opposed” to raising taxes, it’s critical that the business perspective is represented.
Wingate has co-chaired five school construction bond campaigns. He is a member of the Catawba Regional Educational Council and has served on a parent-teacher organization and a school improvement council.
He’s a fan of Moody, in particular her push for Schools of Choice and magnet schools as well as using technology such as iPads to enhance lessons.
“Dr. Moody is a visionary,” Wingate said.
He’s critical of her late start program, which has schools start two hours late several days a year so teachers can work on training.
Wingate said he would push to come up with an alternative way for teachers to get professional development.
“It throws everybody’s schedule off,” he said. “It’s not customer friendly. I don’t know enough to sit there and say I have a better way, but I’d like to find a better way.”
Dan Ballou, a civil trial lawyer with a daughter in the seventh grade at Sullivan Middle School and another in ninth grade at South Pointe High School, values the school system but sees Moody’s push to get iPads in the hands of every student as “a huge distraction and a misstep.”
As a school board member, Ballou said he would thoroughly question such initiatives when they’re proposed.
“There are some amazing things going on in our school district, (but) this is going down a rabbit trail that is really something different than what our community expects,” he said.
“We don’t need to help children learn the iPad. All you have to do is give one to a 4-year-old and they’ll show you how to use it.”
Ballou feels the board has “done a remarkable job of projecting a consistent message.”
“You don’t see infighting,” he said. It’s “done a great job of allowing Lynn Moody to innovate.”
But that might need to be reigned in, he said.
If elected, Ballou would be the only school board member with children in the Rock Hill school system. That’s a perspective the board needs, he said.
Shawn Cetrone 803-329-4072