Voters choose consistency on York, Clover school boards

news@enquirerherald.comNovember 15, 2012 

Voters in Western York County reelected two school board members in York and one in Clover during last week’s elections, turning away challengers who had called for fresh representation.

• In York, incumbent Chris Revels fended off a challenge from Robert Bostic and held on to Seat 3. Incumbent Melissa Ramsey beat challenger Austin Dawkins in a race for Seat 5.

• In Clover, incumbent board member Liz Johnson defeated Ginger Marr in a tight race for Seat 3.

Both York school board incumbents won by wide margins. Revels collected 1,068 votes to 497 for Bostic, while Ramsey had 937 votes to 400 for Dawkins. York school board incumbents Chris Stephenson and Al Johnson were unopposed.

In the Clover race, Johnson was reelected by a much narrower margin, collecting 4,536 votes to 4,320 for Marr. Johnson was appointed to the board last year to replace a board member who resigned. Members Melanie Wood Wilson and Franklin Pendleton ran unopposed.

Johnson, a retired educator who worked 30 years as a music teacher with the neighboring York school district, thanked supporters who worked with her in her campaign.

Moving forward, Johnson said, she believes the community and schools need to be more closely linked. “We need to think of some ways to get ourselves more involved with the community and informed with them,” she said. “Sometimes people get misconceptions of the school system, and we don’t want that to happen.”

Johnson also supported a proposal by Superintendent Marc Sosne to put off the need for a second high school until after 2025 by enlarging the capacity of Clover High School.

“In having two high schools, I doubt if either will get beyond mediocrity,” Johnson said. “An additional high school can and will reduce and dilute human and financial resources.”

Revels, chief ranger with the National Park Service at Kings Mountain State Park, begins his third term on the York board. He thanked voters for their confidence. He also said the challenges ahead include the uncertainty of changes in state legislation and its impact on local schools.

“We’ve got to do a good job, besides just taking care of our business at home, of getting people educating, helping them understand what is happening in Columbia with regard to public education,” he said.

Among his concerns, he said, are proposed legislation to grade teachers on a statewide system and school choice proposals that could drain money from public schools and move it to private schools.

Revels said York allows school choice within the district, if there is room at the school of choice and the parent provides transportation. But if parents had the option of choosing a private versus public school, he said, “it’s not a level playing field, what they’re proposing.”

“There’s just a whole lot of things going on that seems to be taking bits and pieces, one nail at a time, and slowly truing to dismantle the public school system,” Revels said. “That’s a big concern to me and others on the board.”

Ramsey, an insurance claims representative who begins her second term, and Revels both said board members must continue to lobby the state for tax reform that provides solid funding for public education.

“The state has a funding plan, but they don’t follow it,” Ramsey said. “And they want to come up with a new funding plan, but they can’t seem to come up with a solid formula for funding public schools.”

She also said the York school district has a good plan for improving student academic performance, with a goal to get students on par with their peers at a national level.

“We really want to be at that level of high achieving,” she said. “Things are moving along and we’re doing really well with it. We’re not exactly where we want to be, but we have a plan in place, and it will work.”

The role of school board members is to hire and evaluate the performance of the superintendent, who serves as the school district’s top administrator, to set district policy and make budget decisions. Many school board members also track state policies that relate to education and lobby state lawmakers for policies favorable to local schools.

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