Election changes face of the school board
The three incumbents facing challengers in the Union County Board of Education elections lost Tuesday's election, meaning the board will soon have plenty of new perspectives.
The board will have four new members–Kevin Stewart, Michael Guzman, Christina Helms and Richard Yercheck–at their December meeting.
During the campaign, each candidate said their top priorities are students and teachers, with an eye on fiscal responsibility and working with the Union County Commissioners on the budget.
Deanie Griffin, president of the Union County Association of Educators, said the teacher's association is looking forward to working with the newcomers.
"We are quite excited about working with this new slate," Griffin said. "We know that public education is facing some serious challenges."
"(The UCAE) were very encouraged by the number of talented candidates that put their name on the ballot, they were all very impressive in their own way," Griffin said.
Though they are excited to work with the new members, they are also sad to lose the incumbents.
"We are especially saddened that Carolyn Lowder was not reelected," Griffin said. "She has always been a very consistent and thoughtful voice for public education."
Griffin credits Lowder with the decision to ask the Union County Board of Commissioners for the $1.25 million in order to return the teaching assistant positions.
"It will be really sad to attend board of education meetings and her not be there," Griffin said.
Scholl and Minsk have been consistent leaders for the board of education, Griffin said.
"We appreciate their hard work that they have given to the board of education," Griffin said.
She especially applauded the board for their decision when hiring the new superintendent, Mary Ellis.
"That's probably the greatest gift they could have given Union County Public Schools this year," Griffin said.
The first order of business for the new board will be to adjust to the new dynamic and learn how they will work together.
"Any time you add new people to the board, the dynamic changes by necessity," Dean Arp,, former school board chairman, said. "They will have to find out how they work together and get into the system."
"The dynamics are so important and I'm sure they absolutely will find their stride," Arp said.
Superintendent Mary Ellis spoke with three of the four incoming board members on Wednesday to congratulate them.
"This is about the children and what is best for the children and I hope we can put politics aside now that the election is over," Ellis said.
She has every belief that the knew members ran knowing it would be time-consuming and to do the best for the children, Ellis said.
She thanked the outgoing board members for their service.
"I believe the outgoing board members are passionate about children and I think that's always the common ground the board can find," Ellis said. "I salute them for their passion and I salute them for their time commitment."
Ellis added that as a tax payer in Union County, as a mother of children in the school system and as an employee of the school system, "I salute what they've done for our children."