Fort Mill Times

He knows his way around Indian Land schools. Now, he’ll likely sit on their board.

It’s looking more and more like Melvin Stroble will be Indian Land and Van Wyck’s newest school board representative.

Candidate filing closed Jan. 3 for one Lancaster County School Board seat. As of Wednesday morning, no candidates were listed on the state election commission site, but according to the voter registration office in Lancaster County there was one candidate, Stroble, who filed ahead of the deadline.

It was expected his information would be submitted Wednesday. Election officials by law have to wait until Jan. 17 to see if any petition candidate emerges. If not, Stroble, 52, will take the seat without an election. If an election is needed, it would be held Feb. 28.

The single seat came up after former board member James Brooks resigned in early December. In November, Brooks was charged with trafficking drugs and weapon possession. He faces multiple felonies and other charges related to methamphetamine and marijuana. Brooks said at the time he was confident he would eventually be cleared of the charges, but resigned due to “negative publicity” caused by the incident.

Stroble is a project manager for an international engineering and environmental firm. The South Carolina native is a University of South Carolina graduate. He has a longstanding interest in public service, dating back to intern work for the late U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond while in college.

Stroble was vice-chair of the committee promoting the school bond last year providing money for new schools, added classroom space and upgraded technology. He also ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for a Lancaster County Council seat.

Other work with schools involves five years on the school improvement council at Indian Land High School, where he helped with a college certification partnership with York Technical College, and membership on the district’s facility needs committee.

Stroble said because he made his intention to seek the board seat public, having no one else file may be a sign residents would be happy to have him on the board.

“Being the only person to file, I’m elated,” he said. “I also believe it shows people recognize the work that I’ve put forward in the past.”

Stroble wants to see more per student funding in the district, and partnerships with other elected officials who make growth decisions from impact fees to state funding for education. He wants to partner with more colleges and universities in the area. He also wants the district to do its part in helping attract and maintain industry, by preparing students for the type of high-tech work the market requires.

Two years ago, York Tech opened a branch campus in Indian Land.

A skilled and talented population is important for businesses who keep Indian Land and Lancaster County growing, Stroble said.

“They’re also looking at, how do they attract talent, and our school district is a very important part of that,” he said.

Another idea Stroble proposes is for the school board, at least once a year, to hold a regular meeting at each of the high schools in the district. Overall outreach to the community is important, he said, but not specifically related to the way his seat came open.

Stroble isn’t concerned about a loss of public confidence given the arrest of his predecessor.

“The incident that occurred, from what I’m hearing from the Lancaster district and from the district Mr. Brooks represented, people see it as an isolated incident,” Stroble said.

Looking at the overall tenure of board members, Stroble believes there is plenty of cause for optimism.

“I think you’ll find that public confidence in the board is very high,” he said.

Part of Stroble’s task as a board member will include steering the district forward without an educational leader he admires and respects. Superintendent Gene Moore announced in a recent letter to the board he will retire July 31.

“Coming back to serve as the superintendent of the county where I grew up has been the highlight of my career,” Moore said. “I have had great support from the board, our teachers and staff and the community. The people of our district are so committed to helping children be successful in school.”

He served in the role for 11 years.