School board candidates file

There won’t be a lot of competition on the April 10 ballot for local school boards.

As of the Jan. 26 filing deadline, only the incumbents in Barnwell District 45 and District 19 filed. Abraham Sexton is the lone candidate for one seat in District 45 while Karen B. Jowers and Sharon E. McClary are the only candidates for two seats on the District 19 board. Williston District 29 has the most people running as incumbent Russell J. Overton and newcomers Ronald J. Brown and Annette W. Burnette are running for two open seats.

All seats are for three-year terms.

Barnwell District 19

Jowers and McClary are the only candidates running for the seats they’ve held the past three years.

Jowers said she wants to continue to serve because she’s been active in Blackville-Hilda Public Schools most of her life, including as a student, parent of students, and working as the elementary school librarian for 28 years. “I have a commitment to the school and to every student who attends here,” she said. “Our children come first and they are whatever I am all about.”

She said she has seen some positive changes in the school district in the last couple of years, which she hopes she’s played a small part in as a school board member. “Our jobs are not nearly done, however, and I would like an opportunity to help turn our school into a source of pride for our community,” she said.

Sharon McClary also wants to continue to play a part in improving the district.

“I feel that we are moving in the right direction and that we have made many improvements over the last year,” she said, citing improving test scores, higher staff morale, and facility upgrades. “I am looking forward to being involved with this school district and seeing what great things are going to happen in the future.”

McClary said she believes she has served her previous term to the best of her ability “while keeping the children as the top priority in every decision that I am a part of.”

Williston District 29

Three candidates are running for two seats in Williston District 29. One seat is currently held by Russell Overton while the other was vacated in June 2016 by Billy Williams.

“To say the past three years has been a challenge is an understatement; however, I have learned a lot and feel I have more to contribute to the school and kids. I feel that I have done a good job the past three years in working with the other board members and superintendents. I would appreciate the opportunity to serve the next three years,” said Overton.

Brown, who previously served on the board until 2011, cited three main reasons why he is running. “As a grandparent, I have a personal interest in maintaining a quality school district,” said Brown. He also wants to represent parents, students and teachers to “make sure they have a voice in the decision-making process” and serve as a liaison to address any concerns and interests parents have.

Burnette said her main goal in running is to “help ensure that every child in D29 receives the best education that we can provide. Student achievement and development is a win for all stakeholders – students, faculty/staff, and community.”

If elected, she said she will focus on financial accountability and teacher recruitment and retention. “I am deeply concerned about the repeated deficit spending reported at recent monthly board meetings,” she said.

Barnwell District 45

Sexton is the only candidate running for the seat he’s held since 2009.

He said his main focus for his next term is the education of all children, making sure students and teachers have sufficient tools and resources, and safety. Sexton said he believes the communication gap is improving between teachers, parents and the community.

“I believe all children have a right to the best education possible,” he said. “I want to continue to work with the district’s administration and teachers to ensure they continue to have the tools needed to make students academically successful.”