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New school trustees ready to go to work

Posted: December 27, 2012 5:34 p.m.
Updated: December 28, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Derrick Proctor

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Two of three new Kershaw County school board trustees are looking forward to their first meeting on Jan. 8 and already have some priorities in mind.

Life-long Kershaw County resident Louis Clyburn says he has always had a passion for the community and is thankful for the public and the local media’s support throughout his campaign. Clyburn is a former DuPont employee who will take Seat No. 5, formerly held by Carol Thompson.

Many of Clyburn’s priorities fit right in line with the current goals of the Kershaw County Board of School Trustees: prepare all high school graduates for higher education or a place in the workforce, closely monitor and spend funds appropriately, listen to community concerns and motivate all students with qualified teachers and administrators, while monitoring student achievement.

Clyburn is an advocate of technical school preparation as an alternative or precursor to a four-year degree.

“The bottom line is what’s best for the students of Kershaw County. That’s how I’ll vote and that will be my priority as a trustee,” he said.

Safety is one of Clyburn’s main concerns. The mass school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., should serve as a caution for all entities, not just school, he said. In general, he said, the Kershaw County community has got to help the students who start veering toward the wrong track get on the right path; that often takes funding.

Clyburn wants to help promote economic development and positive use of tax dollars. He wants to look beyond local sources of funding to state and national leaders, as the “current system of funding education is not working effectively.”

“I truly believe in working to secure our finances and resources in such a manner that future fluctuations with the economy will have less of an effect on our children,” Clyburn said. “This can only happen through a collaborative effort with our local school board, local school administrators, local and state government and perhaps all taxpayer-owned bodies in Kershaw County.”

Clyburn said he was disappointed with Kershaw County Council’s decision not to grant the school district funds, but understands the burden it would cost to local small businesses -- what he called “the backbone of the county.”

He also said he looks forward to working with the board on upcoming issues such as Phase II building renovations and replacements and encourages all constituents the opportunity to participate in the school board meetings via participation and public forum.

New Trustee Ron Blackmon will replace Seat No. 9’s Jim Smith. Blackmon plans to work to establish “good rapport” with other school board members as well as district administrators. Blackmon said the board has had to make many “tough decisions” in the past and will continue to make them in the future.

“My pledge to the residents of Seat 9, as well as all of Kershaw County, is that I will work as hard as I can to ensure that our children are safe in their school environment, and that they get the quality of education that they deserve,” Blackmon said.

Like Clyburn, Blackmon said safety has become a concern. He said the community needs to look at  every measure in regard to safety precautions. Teacher morale, special needs students, as well as financial accountability are all important to Blackmon.

“Teacher morale is an important issue to me. We have some outstanding teachers in Kershaw County and we need to make sure that they have the support that they deserve from their administrators,” he said.

Blackmon also wants to take a look at teacher-student ratios, although smaller class sizes “does significantly affect overall student achievement,” he said.

As a parent of a special needs student, Blackmon believes all students deserve the best education possible. He is an advocate for special needs students, in addition to every other Kershaw County School District student, he said. Blackmon thanked long-serving members Thompson and Smith for their outstanding work.

“There is a great deal to be done in the coming year, and I look forward to serving with the outstanding individuals who make up our Kershaw County School Board and the district administration.  Nothing is more important than safety and education in our schools, and I plan to do everything that I possibly can do to ensure that our schools are a safe productive environment for our students and staff.”

Also new this year, but having taken his seat in a special appointment in August, is Derrick Proctor. Proctor replaced the late Joey Dorton. Since then, the district has been through an audit, been denied funds by Kershaw County Council and Proctor has used his place on the board to vote against raising trustee pay. “Keep moving forward” is Proctor’s goal first and foremost, saying he’s ready to help find ways to increase the district’s graduation rate, and would like to see test scores improve, teachers’ salaries raised and classroom sizes shrunk.

“I want council and the school board to have a good working relationship so they will know where we stand, why we need funds and where they are going,” he said.

Proctor, a Lugoff-Elgin High School graduate also spoke about the upcoming Phase II decisions.

“I want to offer our students the best facilities we can offer,” Proctor said. “Kershaw County is just as good as any of the surrounding counties. I also want to see sports facilities that are compatible to those around us.”



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