Let the race for Fort Mill school board begin.
Nonpartisan candidate filing ended at noon Monday for the Nov. 8 general election. Three at-large seats will be awarded after those polls close. It will be an important date for education in the area, with 14 school board seats to be settled countywide.
The Lancaster County School District, which includes Indian Land, has three seats due in November. None involve the Indian Land districts.
Incumbents Tom Audette and Pam Martin signed on to re-up for another two-year term in Fort Mill. Scott Patterson, board vice chairman, didn’t. Joining the incumbents in search of seats are Terrin Boddie, Don Elliott, Scott Frattaroli, Chad Meyer and Kristy Spears.
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Boddie, 49, first ran for a board seat in 2014. She works at Resolute Forest Products in Catawba and is finishing up college classwork. She has more than 20 years volunteering with Boy Scouts, was a volunteer firefighter in New York and organizes games at the St. Philip Neri Italian Festival. She also taught faith formation a few years.
“I have always given back to my community,” Boddie said. “I believe the children are our future and I would like to help them build a strong foundation.”
Boddie sees herself as a strong leader who won’t simply go along with the crowd on important decisions. Her skills fit well, she said, with the work ahead of the school board.
“Our current board has done a good job so far and I feel I have lots of expertise in negotiations,” Boddie said. “I can offer fresh ideas and fresh eyes to the complications of all this growth we are experiencing.”
Frattaroli, 42, is a corporate training and team manager for TD Bank. He worked for the school district 18 years prior, from teaching second grade to the principal job at multiple elementary schools. He also helped with the opening of four elementary schools in the district.
“I loved being a part of such an amazing organization and working with such wonderful children, staff members and families,” Frattaroli said. “The district provided me with opportunities to challenge myself and to grow professionally every day.”
While enjoying his new career, Frattaroli believes he has a calling toward public education.
“I believe I would bring a unique perspective to the school board,” he said.
“With 18 years of experience as a teacher and administrator in Fort Mill, I have a broad understanding of the educational process in our schools. Strong leadership is paramount to keeping Fort Mill School District a premier district in the state of South Carolina. I can be that kind of leader.”
Meyer, 49, is president of an asset management firm specializing in hedge funds and private equity funds. Meyer said he believes the district isn’t reaching what should be its top goal, but can given the resources it has.
“The reason that I am running for the Fort Mill school board is quite simply to raise the quality of education in the Fort Mill public schools, and do so in a focused way that doesn’t require additional resources,” Meyer said. “The goal of a public school system is to give all of our kids the tools they need to compete in today’s global marketplace.”
Meyer believes it isn’t enough just to be a top district in South Carolina, which ranks toward the bottom of state education lists. He has degrees from Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania and University of Chicago.
“I know very high academic standards, and I know that having higher expectations for our kids will result in higher achievement,” he said.
Meyer wants to help improve the district from bringing elementary classrooms up to what others are doing nationwide, to improving high school and college readiness test scores.
“Being among the top school districts in South Carolina sounds great, and gives the realtors a talking point,” he said. “But when you look at how we compare to the rest of the country, it begins to get very concerning.”
Spears, 48, is a Fort Mill High School and Clemson University graduate. She retired from Bank of America two years ago after working with bank mergers. Spears also worked with other residents on a citizen committee to promote the most recent school bond in Fort Mill.
“I have great respect for the quality of our schools, teachers, administration, and would be honored to be a part of the board,” she said.
When she learned Patterson wouldn’t run, Spears saw a “critical gap” on the board and decided to run.
“I have spent a lot of time with the board and administration the last couple years with my involvement in the school bond referendum and have attended most of the school board meetings,” she said. “I think I have a good understanding of the way the board works and the key issues that they will be wrestling with over the next four years.”
While the challengers will look to make their cases heading into November, the incumbents have their board service records to tout. Audette, a regional manager with AT&T, was elected in 2012. Areas of service include safety improvements and strategic planning. Martin, also elected in 2012, is a long-time school district volunteer and co-founder of a local multimedia production company.