For folks wanting to serve on York County school boards, it’s time to say so, publicly.
School board candidate filing runs noon to noon, Aug. 1-15. There are 14 seats open countywide, including four each in Fort Mill and Clover and three each in Rock Hill and York.
Several candidates have made already their intentions known before filing, though they won’t become official until they file with the county elections office.
In Rock Hill, long-term school board members Jim Vining (at-large) and Jane Sharp (District 4) announced earlier this year they would not be running for re-election. Vining has served on the board for two decades. Sharp has served on the board for eight years.
Sharp’s seat represents the north area of the district with Ebinport, Indian Hook and Oakwood.
Helena Miller, District 2, said she is running for re-election. Miller’s seat represents the northwest area of the school district with Lakewood, Mt. Gallant, Northwestern and Newport.
“I have had the honor and privilege to serve on the board for four years, and I am excited over the progress that has been made during my tenure but recognize that there are areas that we need to continue to improve,” Miller wrote in a prepared statement.
“As the only school board member with children attending Rock Hill schools, I have a unique perspective and insight in the day to day operations and issues our students and parents face, and I truly feel that the need for parent representation on the board is critical.”
Incumbent Wayne Bouldin announced in early July that he’d seek a third school board term in Fort Mill. A 28-year resident within the district, Bouldin is the father of two district teachers and grandfather of two students. He first ran for school board in 2009.
“It has been an honor to serve, and I would like to continue the tradition of excellence that the Fort Mill School District strives to achieve and our students deserve,” Bouldin said.
Bouldin has a variety of experience within schools, from chaperoning trips and booster club fundraising, to leadership roles on several school improvement councils and co-chairing the committee to promote a $96 million school bond in 2008 that funded construction of Doby’s Bridge and Tega Cay elementary schools, Banks Trail Middle School and stadium work at Nation Ford High School.
An engineer and executive board member with the Palmetto Boy Scouts of America, Bouldin wants to see the district remain strong.
“I have a vested interest in our schools,” he said. “I would like to see that our tax dollars are used efficiently to educate our children, maintain our property values and make sure we continue putting children first every day.”
Fellow incumbent Michele Branning, too, wants to continue her service.
“I’m running,” she said Tuesday morning. I’m filing tomorrow.”
Branning is looking for a second term, having been elected in 2014. She also represents the area as region director of the state school boards association. The region includes all York and Lancaster county public schools. Her first term on the Fort Mill board was busy, but Branning says she is ready for more.
“It is a lot of work,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of great things, and in the course of time and over the years that we’ve been a school district we’ve had some wonderful accomplishments, but certainly in the last four years.”
“We’ve hired more teachers and staff than probably any of the districts surrounding us,” Branning said. “We continue to grow by 1,000 students per year.”
Branning is the past co-owner of companies providing wheelchair accessible vehicles and equipment for people with special needs. She has experience in fundraising and civic work. Providing a competitive education to prepare students for a global marketplace is a goal Branning says is worth another term.
“That’s who we are, that’s what are,” she said, “and I want to continue.”
Also looking to make the transition from bond committee leader to school board member is Andrew Markners. He announced his candidacy online following the July 16 York County Council decision to increase the impact fee on new homes within the district from $2,500 to more than $18,000. Markners also has a candidate page on Facebook.
Markners co-chaired the most recent school bond referendum committee with Kristin Vining and Michelle Angeldorf. All three received the Fort Mill/Tega Cay Citizen of the Year award from the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce for that work.
Markners moved to Fort Mill in 2004. The Rock Hill native has two children attending district schools. He works as a risk management executive in banking, and has served several board positions on individual school groups.
Brian Murphy also announced his candidacy. A Fort Mill native, Murphy runs a law firm he opened in town back in 2010. His wife is a special education teacher at Gold Hill Elementary School, and the Murphys have two children attending that school. After graduating from Fort Mill High School, Murphy earned degrees from Winthrop University and the University of South Carolina.
Now he wants to take on issues related to schools, particularly how they’re growing.
“In order to maintain and improve the excellent quality of education in our district, we must prepare for and meet the challenges of unprecedented growth,” he said.
Budget and facility planning, along with teacher retention and recruitment, are key areas for Murphy. He points to his work as co-chair of the 2015 bond committee, promoting a $226 million infrastructure package voters approved in a referendum that year.
“I experienced how proper planning can set the ground work for later success,” Murphy said.
Incumbent Fort Mill board member Diane Dasher said she doesn’t plan to seek another term.
“At this moment I don’t plan on running,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “It’s been 16 years, and it’s just time for somebody else to jump in there and do it.”
Dasher started on the board when there were less than 6,000 students in the district. Now there are more than 15,000. Growth has been and will remain a challenge, she said.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, pretty much,” she said. “It’s been an honor and a privilege.”
Dasher said she feels good about the candidates who have announced plans to run, which made her decision easier. Board seats are important in the community, she said, especially as the district grows.
“That’s a lot of kids,” Dasher said. “But I feel good about what we’ve accomplished in the past. There’s always work to be done.”
Patrick White, like Dasher a former board chair, won’t run again.
“I have been saying publicly for more than a year that I was not intending to run,” he said. “I am proud of the many accomplishments of our students, teachers, staff and board over the past 16 years.
White is proud of what the district accomplished in his time serving.
“The district has almost tripled in size since I was first elected in 2002, and we have built over $600 million in new schools,” he said. “However, during this period of unprecedented growth we have been able to maintain our status of not only the best district in our state but one of the best in the nation based on academic and financial performance.”
In the Clover School District, terms expire this year for decades of combined experience serving students. Both the chairman and vice chairman seats are up, as are two representing the entire Lake Wylie area north of the Five Points intersection.
Chairman Mack McCarter and Vice Chairman Joe Gordon have several decades of experience just between them. Both have been elected in unopposed races at least the past two times the four-year terms have come due. McCarter, looking for a fourth board term, said Tuesday he plans to run for re-election.
The two Lake Wylie seats coming up this year now belong to Sherri Ciurlik and Rob Wallace.
Ciurlik has been involved with the school district nearly two decades, putting three children through the system. She has extensive experience with school- and district-level initiatives from take home food programs for students in need to technology upgrades.
Ciurlik joined the school board in 2010. Her seat covers Lake Wylie north of S.C. 49 and 557, out halfway to Clover.
Wallace was appointed to the school board in 2013 to complete the term of the late Barbara Parrish. Wallace is a Clover High School and Winthrop University graduate with three children in the district. He was elected in 2014 along with Ciurlik, while McCarter and Jordon ran unopposed.
Wallace’s district covers Lake Wylie south of S.C. 49 and 557, to Five Points and a littler farther south along Crowders and Little Allison creeks.
Wallace said on the first day of filing, he plans to again.
“I do plan on running again,” he said.
Betty Johnson, school board chair for the York district, said she will be filing for re-election. Johnson’s seat 4 represents the center of the school district.
“My main focus is every child in our school district. I want the betterment for every child,” Johnson said. “I want to see them rise to their highest potential and prepare them for their future.”
Also open is vice chair of the board Diane Howell’s at-large seat and Mike Smith’s seat 2. Seat 2 represents the northeast area of the district, which includes the Cannon Mill and New Home areas.