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Meet the candidates for Lexington 3’s School Board Special Election held Tuesday, Feb. 13th

A special election will be held Tuesday, February 13 to fill an unexpired term on the Lexington District Three Board of Trustees. The seat was left vacant when Lancer Shull won the Batesburg-Leesville mayoral election in November 2017.
The candidates vying for this position on the school board are Jermaine Barr, Will Black, Sonya Cary, and Eddie Cogdill. The new Trustee will serve out the remainder of Mr. Shull’s term which ends in 2020.

We asked each candidate to address seven pertinent issues which are listed below.

1. Why are you running for a seat on Lexington District 3 Board of Trustees?
2. What qualifications do you have that you think will benefit this position?
3. What do you feel are the three largest issues facing the District at this time?
4. How do you feel would be the best way to approach these obstacles?
5. Do you feel the House made the right decision to override Gov. McMaster’s veto in order to use lottery money to purchase new buses? Why or why not?
6. Executive sessions at school board meetings often last two or more hours. What is your opinion on these very long private discussions?
7. Please list briefly your current personal information: Age, job, organizations you belong to, family and any other information you feel is pertinent.

Following are the candidates’ written responses.

Jermaine Barr
This great community, Batesburg-Leesville, is founded in the people, the preachers, the teachers, and the great people that helped raise me and most importantly in this educational institution that we have here. I am vested. My family, my friends, all the great people that I know are still a part of this community. We have one idea that we all share. That idea is that our children have a great education, a place where they can grow; they can learn and become anything that they desire in life. I bring to the table what I call “Panther Pride”, a love for education, scholarship and the development of young minds through athletics and social activities. This is how we continue to make this great community better for the 21st century and beyond.
I am 46 years old and I have lived here all of my life. There is no other place like Batesburg-Leesville. I always tell people, once you come to Batesburg-Leesville, everything else is Bug Tussle; it really just does not measure up to the rich legacy of our community. I am the owner of Ryan’s Process Service where I provide area law firms with legal services. I am a long-standing member of the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church of Leesville, where I serve in the capacity of the Brotherhood Association. I am a Christian; I am the grandson of the late Kathleen and Miles Barr who lived in this community, were educated in this community and helped me to establish my foundation of service and commitment. I am the son of Linda and Thomas Marshall from Silver Springs, MD and the nephew of former Batesburg-Leesville High School Coach, Joe Lee Barr.
As a product and student of Batesburg-Leesville High School, I lettered in varsity basketball and football. I participated in other sports, including baseball and track. I was selected to the North/South All-Star Game in 1990. In addition, I was All-Region, All-Area Outstanding Athlete during that year as well as selected to be listed in the Who’s Who of American Students. I received a full athletic scholarship to Hampton University where I graduated with Honors with a BA in Social Work. During that time, I was a member of two (2) MEAC Championship teams and a National Champion team. I am a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
1. I would like for you to know about me personally, I am running for Lexington District Three Board of Trustees because of my experiences from my area of social work. I have seen the effects and challenges that are before our children and how important it is to address all needs (social, educational, economic, and developmental) to ensure not one child goes lacking from the basic needs or opportunity they deserve.
2. As previously stated, I have a vested interest in continuing to make this great community better. The measure of all I am, all that I have, and all that I have become as a man, started at Batesburg-Leesville. We have greatness in our district and we can only get better. I am a believer in a strong PTO that has effective lines of communication between the community and the board. There is a need for a mentoring program for single parents and grandparents who are raising our community’s 21st century children. We need a foundation to keep our young boys and girls focused on learning and social development. We need to assess the risks and create a viable plan that meets these needs.
3. The three largest issues facing the district are teacher shortages, teacher pay and school safety. In terms of school safety, we have to deal with issues of bullying, school violence (school shootings), and transportation safety. We have had 18 school bus fires from old buses that should not be in service.
In terms of teacher’s pay and teacher shortages, we have to come up with a mandate, a consensus from all parties about what is best for the education of our children. To establish this mandate, we must create funding and use those monies effectively. We have to address all students in their academic pursuits, be it vocational training, a direct path to the workforce or the more traditional track of pursuing a college education. Each child deserves the best opportunity to be successful in their endeavors.
4. We need open discussions and to create a strong PTO so we are aware of the challenges that are before the district. Communication is key to begin the dialogue that will assist the board to address these areas.
5. As created by the SC Education Lottery Legislation, proceeds of the lottery must be used to support improvements and enhancements for educational purposes and programs. Lottery funds to date are allocated for K-12, other community education programs, and higher education programs and scholarships. A 2007 State law requires the state to replace buses after 15 years in service. Accordingly, 35% of the state fleet is in need of being replaced. Eighteen buses in this state have caught fire and endangered our children. Of all the mandates, the lottery, the legislature and the law, we have to be good stewards of the funds and represent the best interests of our district and our state.
6. Executive Session, or as they are sometimes referred to as “closed meetings or in camera sessions” are a great tool in servicing the board’s and community’s interest. It can provide a venue for handling issues that need a private setting, creating an environment of constructive discussions, while maintaining a common ground of helpful communication. It provides confidentiality, oversight and unifying relationship with board members and their chair. I pledge to be mindful of the time to be consumed and respectful of considerations of working parents, the agenda of the meeting and to be as efficient as possible to devote the proper time to the issues that are at hand before the district. When parents are concerned about issues for their children, we have to be efficient and user-friendly not to tie up their time at these meetings.
7. Please refer to my opening paragraph.

Will Black
1. I would like to represent and dedicate my time to my district and hometown. I have always enjoyed giving back to other people, and this is one way I feel I can give back to my hometown.
2. I believe I can offer a fresh and innovative mindset as a member of the Lexington School District 3 School Board. In a town where change is often difficult I can offer a contemporary thought process, problem solving, and creativity to improve the quality of education for all students. My perspective will assist with moving forward and making improvements needed for our schools to grow and change with the future.
3. A – Maximizing resources with a budget friendly mindset
B – Working environment for teachers (class size, discipline and bullying)
C – Emphasis on vocational, apprentice and college prep curriculum.
4. A. We have a wide variety of resources in the surrounding areas that our district cannot currently access. I would like to give the children and young adults of our community the absolute best chance to succeed. I believe sharing resources with other districts would be a great way to achieve this
B. The working environment for our teachers should always be a first priority. This includes, but is not limited to, decreasing class sizes, working on discipline, bullying, and providing support for classroom teachers
C. I believe a larger emphasis needs to be put on preparing our young adults for the future. A stronger vocational-apprenticeship program, with hands on learning, would benefit those who are not interested in pursuing higher education. With that being said, we shouldn’t lose sight of the college prep curriculum. It is our responsibility to provide every student with the unique opportunities they deserve
5. The S.C. Education Lottery was established to provide funding and other resources for public education. We have a failing transportation system that is unsafe and unreliable for our students to depend on. For many, this is their only means of transportation to and from school. Using this funding to update the bus fleet is the most immediate solution to this aging problem.
6. I think school board meetings should provide the community an opportunity for discussion. However, there are some issues that simply cannot be publicly discussed due to the legal or sensitive nature of the matter. Given the nature of these discussions, I would expect the board members to thoroughly discuss and review these matters. To limit them to a time frame could have negative implications
7. I am currently 28 years old and have lived in the community my entire life. After graduation from Batesburg-Leesville High in 2007, I graduated from Clemson University with a Bachelor of Science in Graphic Communications in 2011. I worked as a print specialist in Georgia for a small company before working in Columbia for a large cooperation. I currently own and manage a poultry breeder complex on the family farm in Batesburg. I have two sisters that are currently teaching, but my roots to the education system go to back to my grandmother who started teaching in the 1920’s. My grandfather also taught agriculture while raising cattle. My late father was a teacher before he served as the Assistant Superintendent for Lexington School District 3. My mother has taught, was a professor, and a school administrator. She served two terms on the Lexington School District 3 board. I am an active member of Wittenberg Lutheran Church. It would be my pleasure to serve this district to the best of my ability.

Sonya Cary
1. My purpose for becoming a candidate for the Lexington Three School Board is to use the experiences that I have had over a 36 year career in education to make policy and budget decisions, weighing each one on how it will affect our classrooms, students, teachers, employees and taxpayers. Thirty four years of teaching and 2.5 years of administrative and clerical experience along with being the wife of a teacher, coach and administrator, and mother of student athletes and scholars will provide a sound foundation for use in making decisions for our school district. In addition, it will provide a useful reference for other board members who have not been part of the “boots on the ground” force in our schools.
My decision to run for a seat on the Lexington District Three Board of Trustees is one that has been in process for many, many years. I have been urged by friends, family, and Lexington 3 voters to run for a board position since retiring from the classroom in June 2015. I chose not to for various reasons in two prior elections and made my plans to run in the general election in November 2018 until this vacancy occurred due to the opening on the board created by the mayoral election. To do so at this time I chose to resign from the three positions I held in the district until December of 2017.
My children are another reason that I have chosen to run for this position. They are a product of Lexington School District 3 and the community the schools serve. They received a good education here. We have always encouraged our children to be responsible, think for themselves, and accept challenges. They have done very well, always accepting the challenges. I would never ask them to do something which I would not. Stepping outside of my comfort zone as an educator and into a position of district leadership is a challenge I feel I should take just as my children have done.
In summary, participating as a candidate for the Lexington Three School Board is something I feel I must do. I have no hidden agendas but what I do have to offer is dedication, a desire to accept the challenge to serve and 36 years of experience in education.
2. According to Board Policy BBA the duties of a Lexington Three School board member are to set policy and adopt a fiscally sound budget, focusing on what is best for our students. I have 36 years of experience in education which I will use to determine how policy and budget decisions will affect the classrooms, teachers, employees, and citizens of our district. I have lived in the community for 60 years, worked in education for 36 years, taught our students for 27 years, and worked in all of our district facilities, learning the daily needs and operations. These experiences will provide a firm foundation for decision making when judging the effectiveness of policy and budget decisions.
A – Education and Credentials
Bachelor of Arts in Education, Coastal Carolina College 1981. Major: Early Childhood Education
Master of Education, University of South Carolina, 1988. Major: Early Childhood Education
Thirty Graduate Hours in Education beyond Master’s Degree
Certified to teach Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Learning Disabilities
Highly Qualified status in Early Childhood Education by the SC Department of Education
B – Classroom Teaching Experience (34 years)
Second Grade Teacher, Georgetown County Public Schools 1981-82
Learning Disabilities and First Grade Teacher, Saluda School District 1982-1988
First Grade, Kindergarten and Learning Disabilities Teacher, Lexington School District Three 1988-2015
C – Other Teaching Experience
Countdown to Kindergarten teacher, Lexington County First Steps
Adjunct Instructor, Early Childhood Development, Midlands Technical College, Airport Campus, Batesburg-Leesville Campus and Batesburg-Leesville High School Campus
Afterschool Program teacher, Grade 3 Batesburg-Leesville Elementary School, Grade 1, Batesburg-Leesville Primary School
Substitute teacher, Lexington School District One
Adult Education Teacher, Lifelong Learning Center, Lexington School District Three
D – Education Administrative Assistant Experience
Administrative Assistant, Lifelong Learning Center, Lexington School District Three, August 2015-June 2016
Administrative Assistant, Guidance Office, Batesburg-Leesville Middle School, August 2016-December 2018
E – Educational Organization Membership
Past member of Phi Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa and member of the Executive Committee
F – Personal
Lifelong resident of the Batesburg-Leesville/Lexington School District Three community
Graduate of Batesburg-Leesville High School, 1975
Mother of two student athletes in Lexington School District Three
Wife of a teacher, coach and administrator in Lexington School District Three
Member, Wittenberg Lutheran Church, serving as past Sunday School Teacher, Youth Group Leader, Bible School Superintendent, and Children’s Church teacher.
3. The three largest issues facing the District at this time are
A – Career development and training for our students
B – Transparency and accountability
C – Teacher and staff support and retention
4. A – Career development and training for our students
Build a Career Center which may be used by high school and Adult Ed students. I believe taxpayers will support a facility which supports Career Education.
Continue to offer an increased number of classes in the trade skills at BLHS. Allow for students to use these courses as a pathway to graduation with a marketable trade or skill. Today’s careers are not limited to academic positions. Brick masons, plumbers, mechanics, electricians and other craftsmen are often in short supply and offer greater income than careers which require a four or two year degree.
Offer courses in the trades and skilled labor positions to Adult Ed students in the day and night classes. Many of these students were not successful in high school for various reasons and need a career to become taxpayers.
Provide multiple opportunities for students to visit different places of employment, not limited to those areas in which they express an interest, to provide exposure to a variety of career choices.
Continue the AVID program at both the middle school and high school. Expand the program to include as many students as possible who have the potential to succeed in a two or four year college but have not had the exposure to the option.
Increase the offerings and rigor of higher level math and science courses to provide students the opportunity for greater success when entering college level math and science courses. Many of our students are overwhelmed by the difficulty of college courses.
Offer a STEM course at the middle school and the high school rather than incorporating it into the present classes.
Investigate the possibility of offering a “Night High School” diploma program. Many of our high school students now hold down full time jobs or are responsible for their own finances and drop out rather than attend regular day classes.
Offer transportation for our adult students to GED and trade classes. So often they are unable to attend classes due to lack of transportation. This limits their opportunities to learn a skill which will provide them a lifelong income.
Increase education and counseling on the “soft skills” for career success. Build these into the daily expectations of the campus. Emphasize quality, deadlines, due dates, proper dress, and language skills. It’s a real world out there.
Educate students on cost of living expenses, budgeting, life insurance, long term financial planning, etc. Perhaps this could be a required “Personal Finance” class to improve their understanding of how important choosing a career to support their lifestyle is.
B – Transparency and Accountability. These two topics are listed together because if there is the first, then the latter will follow.
Stream the board meetings on the district YouTube channel.
Investigate the possibility of airing the board meetings on the local community cable channel.
Hold public meetings, which would be aired on YouTube or the community cable channel, to provide citizens the opportunity to offer input into forming, rather than reviewing, the budget for the next year. There would a deadline to respond with suggestions.
Publish all employee salaries and titles/positions, which are paid with tax dollars, in the local paper and/or on the website.
Publish income the district receives during the year and possible usages of these funds. Make board discussions using these funds public by streaming or televising. Provide the taxpayers the opportunity to offer what they perceive the needs of the district to be.
Feature district level departments on the community channel or YouTube. Give the public an opportunity to see what the responsibilities and contributions of each department are.
Use YouTube and the community cable channel to provide information and open discussion on the curriculum programs offered by the district.
C – Teacher and Staff Retention and Support
In 2018, TERI ends and the $10,000 cap on retiree salaries begins. It is very possible a teacher shortage will prevail. It is imperative we retain our teachers and employees who remain by making this a desirable workplace. We aren’t a large district with excess funds and small perks will make a difference.
Let’s set the standard rather than follow it. Offer salaries equivalent with other districts rather than lower. We are currently below neighboring districts for certified and non-certified personnel.
Offer signing bonuses for “hard to fill” vacancies. This is done in some other districts.
Form a “Teacher Advisory Committee” including current and retired teachers to work with the board and Superintendent on policy development, administrative rules development, budget, facilities, and strategic planning as stated in Board Policy GBB.
Reduce teacher workloads by protecting planning time, reducing meetings, writing curriculum guides, etc. and find other avenues for many of the duties teachers perform. So often we add programs, responsibilities, teaching coaches whom teachers answer to and never take anything away.
Re-examine the sick and annual leave policy which designates specific usage of 5 personal days and 7 sick leave days and accrued leave as sick leave only. Consider removing the labels “sick” and “personal” on the yearly 12 days and allowing a percentage of accrued days for personal use.
Examine each campus and consider adding back positions which were previously filled but lost due to budget cuts in or around 2008. This will reduce the workload on those who are presently working.
Increase pay for certified and non-certified substitutes. Dividing classes among other classrooms because subs can’t be found is not an optimal solution.
5. I most definitely support the House decision to override Governor McMaster’s veto so that excess funds may be used to purchase new buses. Governor McMaster argued that voters who voted for the lottery did not intend for lottery funds to be used to purchase buses, but to pay for scholarships instead. He also argued that the lottery fund was not a continuing, reliable source. This may be true, but the issue at hand concerns the safety of our students
A wise K5 teacher once said, “If you get them here, get them fed, and get them home, you’ve had a good day.” The first and last parts of that equation can’t be accomplished without reliable, safe transportation. It seems there were no other funds, so “desperate times called for desperate measures.” Apparently the Legislature agreed. The next course of action should be to get on track with a yearly replacement plan and stick to it so that eventually the fleet is up to date and safe.
6. I have attended many board meetings over the last 36 years and I often come away thinking “What did I learn?” The answer to that question was often “not much” so one wonders, exactly what is being discussed in those long, closed door meetings? Employment, discipline, and student matters should never be publicly discussed. Those items are, I’m sure, included in the private discussions. What else? Are there rules which dictate what topics may be conducted in public? This lack of transparency has become a topic of public conversation.
I believe that board meetings need to be streamed on the internet or televised through the cable company, with discussions on future plans, spending taxpayer contributions, purchase contract options, policy decisions and multiple other topics conducted publicly. Only subject matter which involves confidentiality should be included in Executive Session. I watch the Richland One board meetings on cable television. Although it’s often like watching paint dry, other times I hear valuable, animated discussion on topics of public interest. It’s time for our board to revisit what is discussed in public and private sessions.
7. Personal information
Birthday: July 24, 1957
Age: 60
Spouse: Ross Cary
Children: Amber and Austin Fulmer, Will and Tanya Cary
Grandchildren: Benelli, Marvin, Melvin and Minnie (all have fur, four legs and bark or meow)
Parents: Helen Winstead and the late Bernard Winstead
Present Job: Substitute, Lexington School District One
Organizations: Blue Star Mothers National Chapter, Midlands Blue Star Mothers, Circle L at Wittenberg Lutheran Church, Lexington County DSS Board
My passions: Teaching children to read and rescuing animals
Favorite things to do: Visiting the beach, enjoying my pool, yard work, spending time with my family and friends.
Favorite Book: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum
Personal Traits which will enable me to fulfill the position of a board member: knowledgeable, determined, organized, conscientious, diligent

Eddie Cogdill
1. I am running for my kids and all the other students in Lexington County School District 3. I have two children; James is 14 and a freshman at BLHS, Claire is 10 and a fifth grader at BLES. Since a strong education is one of the greatest gifts we can give to our children, I believe we owe our kids the best education we can provide for them. I love Batesburg-Leesville and our School District, and I truly have a heart for service.
I believe we should be supportive, unbiased, and positive, not negative or divisive, in promoting our School District and community. I commend our current Board and Superintendent for the changes that have been made over the past couple of years. I think our District is headed in the right direction and I want to do all I can to continue to facilitate change. I believe that the Board should conduct as much of the people’s business in open session as possible.
2. First and foremost, I am a parent of two Lexington District 3 students. Because of this, I have a vested interest in making certain that Lexington District 3 provides the best education possible for our children.
Second, I have been in manufacturing management for 25 years. I am experienced in facilitating change. My background is in process and continuous improvement. I also have decades of experience with formulating and managing multi-million dollar budgets. Financial responsibility has been, and continues to be, one of my strongest attributes.
Third, I have been a strong supporter of Lexington District 3 since my son started K4, about 11 years ago. I was involved with educational technology upgrades in 2007. I raised funds for a fixed Smart Board in my son’s class and then advocated for Smart Boards throughout Lexington District 3. I have been a dedicated volunteer at my kids’ schools, and the company I work for has been donating bows, ribbon, valentine’s cards, and Easter egg kits to the District for years.
3. A – Student safety
B – Advancing technology
C – Career preparedness for the students
4. A – Student safety – As times have changed, so have the risks to students and faculty at our schools. Unfortunately, we have to plan for the unexpected. As incidents occur all across our country, we must realize that those scenarios could just as easily take place here in our community. We must be proactive instead of reactive. Safety must be our first priority.
B – Advancing technology – No longer do our students take tests using pencil and paper. Everything is done online now. We should strive to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to technology, not just trying to keep up with it. We must not only provide our students with devices such as Chromebooks, we must also invest in the network infrastructure in the District’s facilities to support ever-changing technology needs. I would also suggest looking into a partnership to provide Internet access for our students outside of school. Several towns across the state provide free public WIFI hot spots.
C – Career Preparedness – Our District does a great job preparing our students for their future. However, we must not get complacent with our recent successes. We must work hard to come up with new, innovative ways to prepare our children. The E21 program is a great example of taking care of our college-bound students. We must continue to develop programs for our students who plan on entering the workforce after high school. We should look at developing apprenticeship programs with local companies and possible partnerships with Midlands Technical College. There are many well-paying trade job opportunities for our graduates to take advantage of.
5. Yes I do. As I previously stated, student safety must be our highest priority. There have been a lot of issues with the South Carolina’s aging bus fleet. The most concerning of these issues are buses that have been catching on fire. As the buses get old they require more and more repairs. Not only is it not cost-effective to continue running buses past their normal life span, but our students are being put in danger due to increased mechanical failures and breakdowns.
6. I understand the necessity of executive sessions when it pertains to personnel and contractual issues. However, I believe that the more business is conducted during open session, the better we serve the people of the district. Extended executive sessions, followed by motions and votes, give the perception of a lack of transparency. I am all about transparency when it comes to doing the people’s business.
7. I am 51 years old and have been the plant manager at Berwick Offray (Hartwell Plant) for almost 13 years. My wife, Melissa (Missy), is a Registered Nurse and is the school nurse at BLPS. My son James is in the 9th grade at BLHS, and my daughter, Claire, is a 5th grader at BLES.
I grew up in Laurens, SC, the son of a Greyhound bus driver and stay-at-home mom. I graduated from Laurens District 55 High School in 1984, and attended the University of South Carolina where I lived with my uncle and worked two to three part time jobs to pay my way through college. It took me nine years of working and going to college, but I received my Bachelor’s degree from USC in 1993.
I believe in servant leadership. There is no higher calling than to lead by serving others. I have served, and continue to serve, on numerous boards and committees throughout my church and community. I volunteer and donate to many local organizations.
Personnel and Mom’s Morning Out Committees, First Baptist Church Batesburg
Former Deacon and Personnel Committee Chairman, Lake Murray Baptist Church
Soloist, “This Man Called Jesus,” Lake Murray Baptist Church
Master Mason (Palmetto #19 AFM)
Cancer Cares Advisory Council, Lexington Medical Center Foundation
Past Chairman, Batesburg-Leesville Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center
Batesburg-Leesville Economic Development Committee, Communications Committee
Manufacturing Steering Committee, South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
Center Management and Planning Committee, Midlands Workforce Development Board
Midlands Technical College Batesburg-Leesville Campus Advisory Board
The Rotary Club of Batesburg-Leesville
Coach/President, Coaches’ Pitch League, Laurens Dixie Youth Baseball
Coach/Volunteer, B-L Dixie Youth Baseball
Volunteer/Fundraiser, B-L Youth Football League
Corporate Member, B-L Panther Athletic Booster Club
Former Volunteer Fireman, City of Laurens, SC
Former Member, Mechanical Board, City of Laurens, SC
Interviewed twice during Lexington County School District 3 School Accreditation on-site evaluations as a community leader/parent
Been attending school board meetings for over 11 years
Supporter of the District’s technology initiative since I attended the District’s first Technology Showcase in 2007
I will do my best to represent everyone in the district. I have been working hard to support and promote Lexington County School District 3 schools for a long time, and I look forward to serving our District in an official capacity as a School Board member.

Polls, Locations & Times
Polling places are as follows:

Lexington County Precincts & Locations:
Batesburg – Batesburg Leisure Center, 227 Highland Ave.
Mims – Samaria Baptist Church, Corner of Two Notch Rd. at 6560 Fairview Rd.
Pond Branch – Pond Branch Activities Center,1912 Pond Branch Rd.
Fairview – Fairview Community Center, 2701 Fairview Rd.
Ridge Road – Ridge Road Community Center, 1257 Ridge Rd.
Summit – Summit Town Hall, W. Hampton St.
Hollow Creek – Hollow Creek Community Center, 2701 Priceville Rd.
Leesville – Old Leesville Elementary School, 423 College St.

Saluda County Precincts & Locations:
Delmar – Delmar Community Center, 113 Old Delmar Rd.
Holstons – West Creek Baptist Church, 248 Church Rd.

The polling precincts will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Pub. 2/7/18