Fort Mill Times

3 file for 2 Fort Mill school board seats

When the filing deadline closed last Friday three people had signed up to run for Fort Mill School Board.

Former school board member and chairwoman Chantay Bouler will face off against Fort Mill native Scott Patterson and newcomer Dennis Nifong on the November ballot in the at large election to replace board members Martha Kinard and Lewis Graham. Those two incumbents aren't seeking re-election.

"I still feel like I have something to offer and I decided to run," Bouler said.

Bouler served on the board for 12 years, including three as chairwoman, before losing her last re-election campaign three years ago.

Bouler, her husband and three children are all graduates of Fort Mill schools. She wants to rejoin the board to help he district deal with the ramifications of the law that switched school funding from residential property taxes to a 1-cent sales tax, a law she opposed.

"I was against Act 388, and now the board is looking at mid-year cuts from the state. When you start talking about cuts you start a domino effect," she said. "I've always lived by the philosophy that you have to play the hand you're dealt."

Fort Mill native Scott Patterson announced his plan to run for the board in March and was waiting at the York County Registrations and Elections office at noon last Friday when the filing for the election opened. Most recently, he volunteered to help the campaign to pass last March's $95.9 million bond referendum for school building projects.

Prior to that, the stay at home dad has spent countless hours volunteering at his daughters' schools.

"I've got two kids in the school system; I've lived in Fort Mill all my life. It's something I'm passionate about," Patterson said. "From that experience (volunteering with the bond campaign) I'm really ready to take the next step."

Patterson said he is also opposed to Act 388, and hopes to work with the areas state legislators to push for changes to the funding formula.

"I'm all for bringing the low performing school districts up, but you don't need to bring us down to meet somewhere in the middle," he said.

"That's not good for anyone."

The biggest challenge to getting those changes will be convincing the majority of school districts in the state, which aren't growing faster than the state average of about 3 percent, that the changes will benefit everyone.

Fort Mill newcomer Dennis Nifong hopes his experience stretching budgets to make ends meet will help him win over township voters. Nifong calls himself a "Charlotte escapee," and moved to Fort Mill in March in part because of the reputation of the school system.

He served on the Condo Owners Association at his former residence and spent a year on the board of the N.C. Cartridge Recycling Association, a trade association he helped create.

"I read [the school board] faces a $6 million shortfall. Every board I've been on we had expected to get a certain amount of money and ended up with significantly less," Nifong said.

"I'm very experienced at getting blood out of a turnip."

Like Patterson, this will be the first time Nifong has sought elected office. While he doesn't have any experience in the education profession, he does hold a bachelor's degree in economics from UNC-Charlotte.