Dorchester School District 2 candidates square off

Dorchester School District 2 candidates square off
October 21 15:20 2016 Print This Article

Voters in Dorchester School District 2 had an opportunity to see all six candidates for school board on the same stage at a recent forum hosted by the district’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA).  The three candidates receiving the most votes will win seats in the at-large election.

Two incumbents are on the ballot – Barbara Crosby, a retired teacher, and Lisa Tupper, a businesswoman.  The other candidates include Air Force Veteran Christian Simmons, a pastor and financial management professional, John Hull, a businessman with experience in banking and government finance, retired teacher Pat Parker, and attorney Evan Guthrie.

Crosby highlighted her accomplishments since she began serving on the school board in 2009, citing increased school security with entrance barriers and an increase in the high school graduation rate from 75% to 86%.  She expressed the need to hold another school construction bond referendum to address rapid growth.  She described herself as student-centered in focus.

Tupper has also served on the board since 2009 and is proud of her role in getting additional schools funded through a referendum.  She says her volunteer work in the district while her children were attending school inspired her to become a candidate for the board in 2008.  Increasing teacher salaries is one of Tupper’s priorities.

Simmons, a Summerville High School graduate, makes school funding and transparency his top issues. After his service in the Air Force, Simmons returned to Dorchester County.  “I believe we have the best community and the best schools,” he said.

Hull cited his financial background and detailed understanding of the school district budget as his strengths.  He expressed concern that school construction approved in the 2012 referendum is running two years behind schedule.  He vowed to speak out about the impact of federal mandates.

“Washington, DC is coming in and mandating things that are not constitutional, and I know when and where to say no,” Hull said.

Parker has made school overcrowding her top issue, especially at the middle school level.  Increasing teacher salaries is also a priority for her.

Parker said, “As a former educator, I know a lot of teachers spend their own money for their kids.”

Guthrie placed openness and transparency at school board meetings as his top issue.  He expressed that the board goes into executive session too frequently and limits public comment at meetings.

Guthrie said, “I want to make sure the public has an opportunity to speak and that voters have their voices heard.”

He wants to make career development a priority and make the district a leader in getting students placed in high-paying technology and manufacturing jobs coming to the area.

Voters will have an opportunity to vote for three of the six candidates on November 8.  Eligible voters may cast their ballots early at the Dorchester County Election Office on 201 Johnston Street in St. George until Monday, November 7.  A second early voting station at 520 North Main Street in Summerville will open Monday. October 24 and close Friday, November 4.  Both early voting offices will be open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and on Saturday, October 29 from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.  Some of the eligibility requirements for early voting include being 65 or older, plans to be out of town on election day, work conflicts or having a physical disability.