New board chair promises to bring transparency, offers insight into her ideal superintendent candidate

Nick Reagan sat down with the new school board chair in an exclusive one-on-one interview.
Published: Dec. 13, 2022 at 3:06 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2022 at 5:13 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The new chair of the Charleston County School Board of Trustees wants to do things a little differently – promising to bring transparency to board meetings and clarity to parents.

“I think that having the board meet openly is very important,” said Pam McKinney, referencing the frustratingly long, closed door Executive Session meetings held over the last few years. “We do not need Executive Session, unless it is required by law.”

A lifelong educator working at Charleston County School District schools and a graduate of the system herself, McKinney has taught math to thousands of students. She says it’s that experience the board has been missing.

“I understand what happens in the school building, being there as a teacher. I understand living on a teacher’s salary, the relationship between the teachers and the principals and that of the teachers and the parents,” McKinney said.

But with more than half of students struggling to meet basic standards in reading and a whole laundry list of issues behind the scenes, McKinney has her work cut out for her. She says fixing academics is a community effort.

“The total solution would include the families and the schools, but we are only in charge of the schools,” McKinney said. “I think a lot of that has to do with starting in early childhood education, the behavior in the classroom, how you handle the behavior in the classroom and how you teach the child the right way to behave.”

One of the biggest tasks the board will have to address is the selection of a new superintendent. McKinney says the new board has not discussed the desired qualifications of a new superintendent, but she has some personal qualifiers.

“A candidate that is willing to make a long-term commitment. I think inconsistency has concerned the public, the teachers, the principals and staff. I think transparency will encourage longevity,” McKinney said.

She says she’s looking for “someone with a vast knowledge of proficiency in math and reading being on grade level.”

It’s been almost exactly a year since former superintendent Gerrita Postlewait unexpectedly left without much explanation. Current Superintendent Don Kennedy has around a decade of experience with the district, mostly working in the finance department.

McKinny – flanked by a board of 7 new faces – says she is ready to get to work.