Tag: Horry County School Board Chairman

Update on School Board Chairman Race

Voters will be voting Tuesday for which of three candidates they want to lead the policy making board of Horry County Schools for the next four years.
Two of those candidates, David Cox and Helen Smith, are currently serving members of the school board. The third candidate is retiring teacher Darrell Ricketts. Smith, in fact, has prior service as school board chairman, although Smith’s six-year tenure as chairman ended 20 years ago.
Ricketts presents an interesting question about his qualifications to lead the school board.
I researched old files to review the reasons for Ricketts dismissal as principal from Aynor High School in summer 2004.
Ricketts served as principal of Aynor High School from 1994-2004 until he was removed from that position after an independent investigation, ordered by the school district, concluded in its report that Ricketts improperly altered transcripts and tampered with grades and credits in an attempt to manipulate the school’s state report card rating.
In an initial response to the investigative findings in the report, Ricketts called them one opinion that he disputed.
Later media reports quoted Ricketts as saying his actions were civil disobedience (the refusal to comply with certain laws as an act of protest) to keep marginal students in school.
However, his actions were also apparently taken to get around exit exam requirements established by state legislation.
A Sun News editorial of November 18, 2004 stated, “Ricketts gave up on the youngsters for whose benefit he manipulated the testing system. In doing so, he effectively denied them their last chance to learn critical skills they need to be successful as adults. For that reason, especially, he deserves the punishment that the Horry County Schools bestowed upon him.”
It is now up to voters to decide if those past actions are acceptable in someone who is a candidate for the chair of the policy making body of Horry County Schools.

Which Candidate is Best Qualified to Lead Horry County School Board?

The race for the Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman has contrasts among the candidates that should be looked at.
School boards are under attack nationwide in a concerted effort by the Club for Growth to change the makeup of school boards throughout the country for its own goals. Unfortunately, that effort has little to do with what is best for students.
Current school board member David Cox brings 14 years serving on the board, eight years as the member for District 9 and six as the current member for District 4. Cox has the overwhelming support of current board members in his run for chairman. Cox has the longest current continuous service on the school board.
Current school board member for District 6, Helen Smith, returned to the board in 2018 after a 16-year hiatus. Smith previously served as District 6 member from 1982-1996 and as board chairman from 1996-2002. Needless to say, much has changed in Horry County schools since she ended her term as chairman 20 years ago.
The third candidate for school board chairman, Darrell Ricketts, brings the most interesting curriculum vitae to the race.
Ricketts is retiring as a teacher at Socastee High School this year. However, his tenure in Horry County Schools is checkered.
Ricketts was once the principal at Aynor High School until he was caught changing the grades of over 20 students in order to make school performance look better. When that issue came to light, Ricketts was fired from his principal position and his principal certification by the S. C. Department of Education was terminated. The state left his teacher certification in place allowing him to serve as an agricultural education teacher at Socastee High School.

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Richardson Rolls To GOP Nomination

Ken Richardson was the heavy favorite of voters Tuesday as he captured 71 percent of the vote in the Republican primary special election for Horry County School Board Chairman.

Incumbent school board member Janice Morreale gathered 20 percent of the vote to finish a distant second with former Patricia Milley completing the field at 9 percent.

Richardson will face political newcomer Democrat Heather Johnson in the November general election.

Richardson’s campaign centered on safety in the schools, transparency of board decisions and strict oversight of the school district budget.

The Richardson victory continues a recent trend of incumbents with serious opposition in the primaries falling by the wayside.

Last month challenger Johnny Gardner bested incumbent Mark Lazarus for the Republican nomination for Horry County Council Chairman and William Bailey defeated incumbent Greg Duckworth for the GOP nomination for  SC House District 104. The Richardson victory completed the Trifecta Tuesday night.

What is particularly interesting is all three incumbents had significant help from other incumbents during the primary campaigns.

Lazarus had the endorsement of at least 10 of his 11 fellow county council members as well as endorsements from the coastal mayors and members of the county legislative delegation. State legislators Heather Ammons Crawford and Russell Fry ran the Lazarus campaign.

Duckworth had the active support of fellow legislators Alan Clemmons, Greg Hembree, Fry and Ammons Crawford, as well as North Myrtle Beach Mayor Marilyn Hatley, contacting voters to push Duckworth reelection.

Morreale, the current school board member for District 5, had a group of her fellow school board incumbents actively contacting voters to push her candidacy.

School Board Needs Strong Leader, Richardson is the Answer

When Horry County voters go to the polls Tuesday July 17th to elect the Republican nominee for School Board Chairman, they should only have one consideration in mind – who is the strongest leader among the candidates.

Approximately 20 years ago, the Horry County School Board ceded much of the control of policy making to then Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait. Since then, successive boards have allowed this policy to continue with only a very few minor changes.

The board basically identifies general objectives or goals, but the superintendent is allowed to make policy to achieve those ends. The board does some monitoring of the superintendent, but is at the mercy of the information that is shared with it.

What this means is the school board members the public elects to supposedly set policy have become little more than figureheads controlled by the superintendent and staff.

When new school board members are elected, they are given a class by staff on what they can and can’t do under this type of governance system.

Think about that for a minute. School board members are told by staff what they can and can’t do rather than the other way around. Makes one wonder why we need a school board at all and certainly question why school board members voted themselves a 66% pay raise last year.

It is past time to elect a school board chairman who is a strong leader willing to make the changes necessary to the current district governance model to put the school board back in the position of making district policy, especially in areas of budget and oversight of operations and facilities.

I believe Ken Richardson is that candidate.

Richardson worked for 40 years in a very successful Fowler Motors, the last 14 years as owner of the business. He has served for over 20 years as a member of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission, including 15 years as Chairman and now Chairman Emeritus.

Large vs Small Issues in School Board Chairman Race

The Republican nomination for Horry County School Board Chairman will be decided by voters next Tuesday.

Most campaigns for political office center around a few important issues and questions. The biggest question going into next week’s voting is do you care enough about who will chair the government body that spends the largest portion of the property taxes you pay ($700 million in round numbers) to go out and vote?

Voters will choose between current school board member for District 5 Janice Morreale, former teacher Pay Milley and local businessman and current Chairman Emeritus of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission Ken Richardson. The victor will face Democrat business woman and former teacher Heather Johnson in the November general election.

Morreale’s campaign theme is ‘Back to the Basics’. However, Morreale seemed to forget one of the most basic rules in politics – Don’t Vote for a Pay Raise for Yourself – when she voted for a 66% pay raise for board members last year.

During the campaign, Morreale has pointed to getting the school district to pay for pool times for swim team members and the cost of transportation for band members to attend away games as two of her accomplishments as a board member. Both, I’m sure, are important to the students and parents they affect, but they are small issues compared to school construction, teacher pay and support and establishing the district wide agendas for board consideration.

Milley’s campaign has said school days are too long, curricula too difficult, nights too short and students too stressed to result in a good learning environment. She advocates 15 minutes of recess for every 45 minutes of instruction and copying the education model of Finland for better student achievement.

Milley acknowledges her issues will require approximately 11 new bills from the General Assembly to allow changes she advocates. Local legislators said those bills are never going to happen.

Richardson has been eyeing the school board chairman seat since the 2016 general election, an election he did not participate in because the HGTC commission was in the midst of a search for a new president of the college.

Four File for School Board Chairman Vacancy

By Paul Gable

Four candidates have filed for the special election to fill the vacancy on the Horry County Board of Education created when Chairman Joe DeFeo died suddenly last month.

Three candidates filed for the Republican nomination for the vacant seat, incumbent School Board District 5 representative Janice Morreale, former teacher Patricia Milley and Conway businessman Ken Richardson. A special primary election will be held July 17, 2018 to determine which of the above three gains the Republican nomination.

Former Aynor Middle School teacher Heather Johnson filed as a Democrat with no primary opposition.

The winner of the Republican Primary will face Johnson in the November 6, 2018 general election.

Richardson has been a member of the Horry Georgetown Technical College Area Commission for 20 years.  He was associated with Fowler Motors for 40 years, beginning as a salesman and working his way up. He owned the dealership for the last 14 years of his association before selling in 2009. He will undoubtedly be the best financed candidate in the race.

Richardson has been planning to run for the school board chairman seat since January 2017, when he first announced his intention to be a candidate in 2020. DeFeo’s death has moved up that timetable. Richardson has advocated for an open door policy by the superintendent for all teachers and administrators in the school district.

Morreale was first elected to the school board in the 2012 general election. She was reelected in 2016. She has been a solid board member representing her district well. However, as the only incumbent school board member in the race, she will face questions about the pay raise school board members voted for themselves recently and about why most recent school construction has come in over budget.

Milley unsuccessfully challenged John Poston for the School Board District 8 seat two years ago. As a former teacher, she has promoted ideas such as more recess time for students and a shorter school day. Milley believes both would better help students concentrate during classroom instruction.