CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster is set to review a bill that will dramatically change how Charleston County School Board members get elected.
“As he does with every piece of legislation that reaches his desk, the governor will take a close look at the bill before making a final decision,” spokesperson Brian Symmes said.
There is no timeline on his response.
The bill was unanimously passed by the South Carolina House on Wednesday after being approved by the Senate in May. It would require school board members to run in nine single-member districts starting in 2022, instead of county-wide positions. Those districts will correspond with the composition of the Charleston County Council election districts.
State Sen. Sandy Senn was one of the bill’s architects.
“It’s going to make the school board more balanced countywide. In that, we won’t have too many from Mount Pleasant or too many from North Charleston,” Senn said. “What will happen though in several years, several different election cycles is that you will see your school board members will be your neighbors, because they’re going to be base on county council lines.”
Any board member elected in or after 2024 will serve four-year terms, but those running in 2020 will only serve a two-year term. This will mean all nine seats will open in 2022. Those in the odd-numbered districts will run for a four-year term. Those in even-numbered districts will only run for a two-year term.
Charleston County School board member Kevin Hollinshead said he is in favor of this change, making him the only sitting board member to publicly support it.
“I believe the general public needs more input and more involvement,” Hollinshead said. “This puts it back in the hands of the community. You know the person you’re electing for the office. That’s your neighbor.”
Anyone running will also only need to file a statement of candidacy to be placed on the ballot instead of collecting signatures. This is something that goes into effect immediately once it becomes law.
The bill has also received some push back. On Jan. 24, 2020, the school district hired a lobbyist as lawmakers considered it.