School Board candidates make final arguments at Andolini’s

November 05 21:20 2018 Print This Article

Four of the 11 candidates for the Charleston County School Board made their closing arguments at a West Ashley United Facebook Live event Monday at Andolini’s restaurant in West Ashley. There are four seats on the ballot Tuesday – two in East Cooper, one in the North Area, and one in West Ashley. Every Charleston County voter may vote for all four seats. A St. Andrews District 10 Constituent School Board candidate also participated in the event. All candidates were invited.

All of the candidates for the county school board who participated Monday lamented the impact of the big money non-profit Charleston Coalition For Kids in the school board elections. The group was funded by several Billionaires, two banks, and several large corporations. The Washington Post documented that hundreds of thousands were spent promoting school board incumbents on the ballot. The deep-pocketed non-profit Charleston RISE was also involved in the Coalition For kids and got volunteers to collect e-mails and phone numbers to advocate for the Coalition For Kids slate of candidates.

Here are some of the statements made by the candidates at Andolini’s:

Paul Padron (West Ashley seat): “We have lost our focus in Charleston County School District (CCSD). They (the current school board) don’t get it. Every decision they make trickles down to the classroom. The classroom is where the magic happens.” Padron wants a greater emphasis on reading. More than half of the students in CCSD are reading below grade level. Pardon was a principal at three CCSD schools, and has the reputation as an advocate for teachers and innovation.

Herbert Fielding (West Ashley seat):  “Big money interests are trying to take over the school district and are slighting our children.” Fielding is a retired state employee and said that his experience as a job placement specialist for the South Carolina Employment Security Commission revealed that a lot of South Carolina veterans did not qualify for the industrial jobs being created in the state.

Vivian Sheppard Pettigrew (North Area seat): “We need to make some serious changes and serious commitments to our children, our teachers and our principals. They deserve that! We can’t keep doing the same thing and make results better.” Pettigrew is a retired CCSD teacher and has three decades of experience as a small business owner in accounting and finance.

Sarah Shad Johnson (one of the two East Cooper seats). “We need to listen to the voices of our teachers. The school district’s top-down management and poor facilities maintenance are bad for everyone. We have schools with rats and black mold.” Johnson is the Mt. Pleasant District 2 Constituent Board Chair and co-founded the Charleston Area Community Voice For Education group, which seeks a collaborative approach to education reform. She has expertise in finance and law.

David Bell (St. Andrews District 10 Constituent School Board – 3 seats). Bell is an engineer with Mercedes and a former Navy nuclear power operator and instructor. He wants to see more STEM and robotics instruction in West Ashley schools. He also wants to see more alternative programs for students with disciplinary problems and wants to develop an anti-bullying program.

Polls are open tomorrow from 7 am to 7 pm. If you don’t know where to vote, call the Charleston County election office at 843-744-8683.