Meet the Candidates: A crowded field for school board’s Fourth District

by | August 24, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: August 22, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Bowman, Miller, Roberts

Darlene Miller faces a trio of challengers in her bid to return to the Colleton County School Board representing the Fourth District.
Miller, finishing out her first four-year term on the school board, will be challenged in the Nov. 6 General Election by Cindi Roberts, William Bowman and Alroy Headden.
When Miller ran for the school board seat in 2014, she defeated Roberts by 55 votes, 385 to 330. Even though the incumbent for that board seat, Paul Haase, decided to withdraw from the race, he made the move too late for his name to be removed from the ballot. He received 191 votes in 2014.
Bowman is seeking to return to the school board from a new district. Bowman served as a board member from 2008-2016, but left the board after a redrafting of the school board districts moved him out of District Seven.
Headden is making his first bid for public office. Attempts to contact him for information were unsuccessful.

William Bowman
Address: Walterboro
Age: 46
Marital status: Shelissa Garrett Bowman – 24 years
Education: Saint Anthony’s Catholic School through third grade then Colleton County School District, graduating in 1989. U.S. Air Force Technical Training Program – Associate’s Degree in Cryogenics 1990, Trident Technical College Associate Degree Nursing Program – 1997-1999
Past and Present Employment: Currently owner of WBJ Board Consulting Firm and Perfect Image Portrait Studio. Previously employed by Colleton Ambulatory and Diagnostic Center, Assistant Manager of Rite Aid Pharmacy, United States Air Force and H and D Supermarket
Organizations: Member of Live Oak Deliverance Center, Minister of Music, Sunday School; Superintendent South Carolina High School League, Basketball Official; March of Dimes Executive Committee Member 2016-2017; Graduate of Southern Carolina Alliance Leadership Institute 2015 and NCAA Basketball Official for the Peachbelt, GAAC, and Big South conferences 2002-2005
Previous public office or community service: Colleton County School Board Member from 2008-2016 including Colleton County School Board Chairman in 2012 and School Board Policy Committee Chairman from 2010-2016; South Carolina Senate candidate in 2015 and commentator for Colleton County All Stars Football Program since 2012.

Why are you running for school board?
I am running because a school system has a great impact on the community, thus the need for true representation. Board members must be a liaison to the public for district knowledge and information. Community trust and accountability must be renewed in our school board. Our teachers, staff, and students need someone in whom they feel confident will do what’s right, while serving in the best interest of promoting student academic achievement. I have proven I am the most qualified, and have shown the most experience in promoting transparent representation for the public in all of these areas. We need that type of leadership now.

In terms of experience, what would you bring to the board?
I’ve served two terms on this board representing the constituents of District 7. During my service, I answered every constituent or citizen call and/or question posed to me about our school system. I served as board chairman, chairman of personnel, and policy committee chairman. While not serving on our board, my wife and I started WBJ Board Consulting Firm where we teach school board members how to be effective in parliamentary procedures, roles and responsibilities, superintendent evaluation, district data evaluation, school district finance, state and federal school laws, policy drafting, personnel management, etc. Intricate knowledge in all of these areas is what I’ll bring to the board.

What is the main issue you see facing school board members and how would you begin to address it?
Student academic progress is the main issue, I see, facing board members. These achievements are directly germane to county economic development, and currently we are very deficient. These results must be vehemently questioned by the board! I would publicly increase district level administration accountability in this area using a top-down method. Questions about district-controlled educational environment issues, useful professional development strategies, instructional best practices, how we use student progress monitoring data to synthesize parental involvement, teacher pacing guide development, etc. must be answered and rationalized for its origination and effectiveness because student academic progress is not only the foundation of our school system but it is also the foundation for the success of our community.

Darlene Miller
Address: Cottageville
Age: Not answered.
Marital Status: Married.
Education: Realtor’s license from Birmingham/Bloomfield Board of Realtors in Bloomfield, MI; business administration degree from Davenport University in Warren, MI; and a liberal arts degree and organizational management degree from the University of South Carolina.
Past and Present Employment: Worked in the mental health field for the State of Michigan, Wayne County Organized Crime Task Force, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Defense, United States Army Armaments and Tank Command, AT&T Large Business Solutions and United Airlines.
Organizations: Board member for Lowcountry Community Action Agency, Inc. for three years. Member of Jericho United Methodist, involved with the Children’s Ministry, Family Ministry, Age Level Ministry, Extreme Hospitality Committee chairperson of Pastor Parish Relations Committee and Church Co-Council. Responsible for writing a grant to receive monies to complete an exercise room at the church and currently a Communion Steward.
Previous public office or community service: Member of the Colleton County School Board since 2014. Served as class mom and PTO President at Cottageville Elementary School.

What made you run for re-election to this post?
I feel that I have made a significant impact in our community and will continue to have positive relations with students, parents, and staff. The relationships and trust I have built within this district are not just in District 4, but also throughout all of Colleton County District Parents, students, and staff feel like I am approachable and will listen and know that I will do whatever I can do to resolve the issues that are at hand. I am transparent and have no hidden agendas, just the best interest of our students and our staff.

In terms of experience, what would you bring to the board?
I would bring my service as a very visible board member in the schools and community.  I am supportive of our students’ accomplishments no matter how big or small. I show this by attending events and helping whenever possible: volunteering to work in the concession stands, packing backpacks for the Back to School Bash, attending the Robotics awards ceremony and traveling with our robotics team whenever possible and numerous other things.
I just don’t go to board meetings and that’s it! I make sure that I am up to date on training, safety, and legislative news, by attending conferences that are beneficial in keeping up to date on what’s going on in our state and government. I have gone to the State House to meet with our Legislative Delegation to discuss school funding and to Colleton County Council in support of monies to ensure we have a balanced budget and are meeting all of the needs for our students and staff.
There is no issue with this board; it is not political as there is no issue of transparency.  We are about the business of educating our students to be the best they can be whether it be career- or college-ready.  This year we had a higher graduation rate, have received the most scholarships ever and had the most double and triple completers in our Technical Career Center.

What is the main issue you see facing the school board members and how would you begin to address it?
The main issue in our district right now for me is the safety of our children and staff.  We are ensuring that more safety measures have been added to the budget to make each school a safer environment for learning.  If students don’t feel safe at school, achievement suffers; it is the paramount duty of everyone in the community and the politicians who represent them to help create safe learning spaces.
Mental health is a great concern for our children in this day and time that we live.  They have a lot of things to contend with on a daily basis — with social media, it never stops! I feel having more counselors and psychologists who can be present for the students would have a great impact.  We are starting a new system for tracking issues of bullying; we will now have a system that will allow us to see just how, where and to whom a situation was reported and what measures were taken about the issue.
Attracting and maintaining highly qualified staff by giving them the adequate resources and support in their jobs in order to battle burnout and alleviate stress in the classroom.  If we do not support teachers and staff, we risk collateral damage to students.
As chairperson over the Policy Committee, I am proud to say that we have updated policies that have not been updated for years. All policies are updated on a regular basis and we continue to keep them that way.
The board and superintendent are rolling out an after-school program for all elementary children.  This is something that I have wanted for a long time and I am finally able to see it come to fruition.

Cyndi Roberts
Address: Cottageville
Age: 45
Marital status: Married to Shane Roberts
Education: High School; Miller Motte Technical College and South Carolina School of Real Estate
Past and Present Employment: Past: Litigation Paralegal, 20 years. Present: Realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Southern Coast Real Estate
Organizations: Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, South Carolina Association of Realtor, National Association of Realtors
Previous public office or community service: Past President PTO Cottageville Elementary School and Woodland Elementary. Guardian adLitem for Greenville County.

What made you decide to run for this post?
As a parent of two Colleton County High School students and friend of many CCSD employees, I have concerns of the current state of our district.  I can offer and implement solutions that can positively impact our teachers, staff and students.

In terms of experience, what would you bring to the school board?
My vast experience as a paralegal and currently a realtor has offered me the ability to listen and view things in totality. Every day I negotiate things which will work for all involved and I believe that skill set will translate into the school board. In order to make things happen effectively and efficiently, it is important to have someone that has the same vision.  I am the best person to achieve this.

What is the main issue you see facing school board members and how would you begin to address it?
There are many issues; however, one main item is the Board lacks transparency.  This is the key to building trust, morale and opportunity. My priority is to build all of those things. Lack of transparency also results in a disconnect between the current school board and the employees of Colleton County School District.  I can improve this by keeping the students and employees first. Our community deserves school board members that value all people. Vision, mission and unity are the key to our school district’s success and our community must demand that for our children.

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