Blackville school board candidates position themselves for race: McCormack

Steve McCormack tries to see the big picture of events as well as the local one when it comes to public education in the state.

With his job at Verizon, the communications company, McCormack travels the state. At each work site, McCormack likes to read the local newspapers to see what that area's school boards and districts are facing. He also follows state politics. He says it gives him a wider view of public education in the state.

McCormack is running for a fifth term on the Blackville-Hilda school board.

School board elections are April 14. McCormack and fellow incumbent Inell Waring are both running for re-election. They are being challenged by newcomer Brenda Holman.

Some of the problems local districts are facing were created in Columbia, he said.

"My opinion is that Gov. Sanford has never been for public education. I know he has never been to a S.C. School Boards Association meeting. If South Carolina is going to turn around, we need the support of our state government," McCormack said. "We've got to have someone in there who is pro-public education. It's not always about local government but the state government and federal government too."

McCormack said he is running again because his family.

"I've got five grandchildren that will be attending these schools and three that are in the schools now," he said.

McCormack, 53, graduated from Blackville-Hilda High School in 1974. He is a native of Blackville but lived elsewhere in the state for about 15 years before returning to Blackville in 1991.

The Blackville school district has had its problems, but McCormack thinks it is starting to make improvements, especially under Superintendent Teresa Pope, he said.

McCormack wants another term to help her with the changes, he said.

"I'd like to be there with her and keep it going," he said. "You can't turn around a battleship on a dime. There's so many things that can slow us down or move us forward."

Money will be the biggest challenge the district will face, he said.

"The funding is going to be the main thing, no ifs, ands or buts about it," McCormack said.

Education and business mutually build one another up in the state, he said.

"It's going to be about money, but who is going to want to come to South Carolina if its education system is only minimally adequate?" he said of industrial recruitment. "We've got to get some jobs into our South Carolina economy."

McCormack would like to see the district make its Adequate Yearly Progress benchmark on the state measures. Each year for the last several years, the district has not made it, but it has been because of a few items missed.

"We are close, but it's an all-or-nothing thing. It's not that we aren't trying. We are trying new programs," he said.