Johnson wants school board to reclaim its lawful role

by Robin Steinberger | October 18, 2018 7:17 pm

Sarah Shad Johnson is running for one of the four seats for Charleston County School Board. She is running for one of two East Cooper seats. Her opponents are Kate Darby (Incumbent), Joyce Green, and Jake Rambo. The election is November 6.

Johnson grew up in Mt. Pleasant and graduated from the East Cooper School, a small K-12 private school in which her mother taught third grade. She was accepted into the Honors College of the University of South Carolina and earned a degree In philosophy with the goal of going to law school. She decided instead to obtain a paralegal certificate and worked as a paralegal for six years. In the meantime, she met and married Landis Johnson. They have two children. Emma is 18 and a senior at Wando. Mattox is 16 and is homeschooled.

After college Johnson stayed in Columbia for 20 years. She became active in the local community. She was the Columbia Mom’s Club President and then Area Coordinator for the chapters in the eastern half of South Carolina. While in Columbia, she was also Assistant Director of Children’s Ministry for the Columbia Campus of Seacoast Church.

In 2010, Johnson moved back to Charleston. She immediately became involved in Charleston County Schools. Johnson was on the Cario Middle School Improvement Council and then served on the Charleston County District 9 PTA Board as the Legislative Chair.

In 2011, Johnson and Peter Smyth, a retired CCSD teacher and administrator, created Charleston Area Voice for Education Facebook page to give parents and teachers a chance to sound off on education issues. The group has nearly 4000 followers, who offer information and opinions on all aspects of education, from policy to building maintenance to school board politics.

In November 2016, Johnson was elected to the Mt. Pleasant District 2 Constituent School Board. She was elected chairwoman in April 2017. Under her leadership, the board has improved transparency and efficiency. The board has just finished drawing the attendance lines for Moultrie Middle School, which is expanding. In June 2018 they began working on the zoning for the two Mt. Pleasant high schools – Wando High and Lucy Beckham High, which will open in August 2020. The attendance lines need to be drawn a year in advance of Lucy Beckham’s opening.

As the Mt. Pleasant District 2 Constituent Board Chair, Johnson has worked closely with the District 1 Awendaw/McClellanville Constituent Board. In 2014, Charleston County voters passed a 1% sales tax to fund the construction and renovation of new schools throughout the county, including a new middle and high school in Awendaw. Four years later, the land for the new school has not yet been purchased. Sarah believes that whoever is elected to the two East Cooper seats needs to represent all of East Cooper, which includes Awendaw, Isle of Palms, McClellanville, Mt. Pleasant, and Sullivan’s Island.

Johnson aims to reduce the bureaucracy in CCSD and focus on the needs of the students. Her top platform objective is restoring the legal role of the school board to set district policy and provide oversight on policy implementation. The current school board has ceded policy-making authority to the Superintendent. She wants to give principals more flexibility to meet the specific needs of their school and the resources to help their students succeed. Finally, she wants to ensure that CCSD teachers are supported and treated as respected professionals.

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