CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Gov. Henry McMaster has signed a bill into law that completely changes how Charleston County School Board members get elected.
The bill was unanimously passed by the South Carolina House last week after being approved by the Senate in May.
It now requires school board members to run in nine single-member districts starting in 2022 instead of countywide positions. Those districts will correspond with the composition of the Charleston County Council election districts.
“We saw as a group a lack of responsiveness to the students, the needs of students, the needs of parents and teachers, and we wanted to address that, and we think we have,” Stavrinakis said. “I’m not surprised the governor decided to sign it, so I’m very pleased with that.”
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.
Rev. Dr. Eric Mack serves as the school board chair.
“The change in the law will change the districts we are elected from, but hopefully it will not change the intentions of the candidates who are elected to the school board,” Mack said. “Our job is to be good stewards of state and local resources, make sound policy decisions, and create the best school system for the children of Charleston County, regardless of our election districts.”
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 last week. “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.
The bill has also received some push back. On Jan. 24, 2020, the school district hired a lobbyist as lawmakers considered it.