Education

Meet the Lexington 2 school board candidates

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There are three open seats on the Lexington 2 School Board to be filled in the Nov. 6 election. Six candidates are running: Linda Alford-Wooten, Christina Fitts Rucker, Brad Giles, Wayne Roy McKim, Michael John Neal and James Bud Summers.

Lexington 2 School District contains Airport High School, Brookland Cayce Senior High School, Cayce Elementary, Congaree Elementary, Congaree-Wood Early Childhood Center, Cyril B. Busbee Creative Arts Academy, Herbert A. Wood Elementary, Lexington Two Innovation Center, Northside Middle, Pine Ridge Middle, R. H. Fulmer Middle, Riverbank Elementary, Saluda River Academy for the Arts and Springdale Elementary.

Meet the candidates for Lexington 2 school board:

Linda Alford-Wooten

Occupation: Healthcare professional

Education: University of South Carolina

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for school board hoping to continue to make a difference in a district I love.

What are the school district’s strengths?

Diversity, tradition and community involvement. We are blessed to have a community that supports the district. We have incredible faculty and resources now available to our students with all the school improvements that have taken place in our district.

What are the district’s biggest opportunities for improvement?

We have some great opportunities ahead with the many new programs and amazing facilities. Meeting our student needs on all levels is and always should be our first priority.

Christina Fitts Rucker

Occupation: Chief relationship officer at The FITTS Company

Education: Bachelor’s degree in education

Why are you running for the school board?

I am running for school board because I want to help make good decisions for the kids and our schools in Lexington School District 2. Kids first, always! My children are actually third generation Lexington School District 2, so this is home for us. Kids deserve the best, and I feel that my 20 years of experience in business, my degree in education and my true concern for children has prepared me to serve our community as a school board member.

I have and will spend time looking at what we are doing to make our school safer and make sure we are improving on this each day. Safety is a must! Our community and the sense of community is something I highly value. I want to make sure that we are communicating well with our community and that the work we are doing is something everyone can be proud of. Community is everything!

What are the school district’s strengths?

Our district does many things well and we are very proud to call Lexington School District 2 home. As with anything, there is always room for improvement. If we are doing something well we need to make sure we are continuing to do what has brought us success but also look at ways to continue to improve. The areas where we need immediately improvement, we need to address those areas quickly. Our kids deserve the best!

What are the district’s biggest opportunities for improvement?

Safety is always being addressed and improved but I would like to make sure we are really doing everything we can to make improvements as quickly as possible. I would also like to make sure we understand the needs of each school and child so that we can prioritize and address issues or concerns quickly.

I would like to spend more time with teachers and administrators. They are the ones that know our kids the best so their feedback is valuable. We need to make sure we are listening to our administrators and teachers. We also need to listen to our community. Being informed is the only way to make good decisions.

Brad W. Giles

Occupation: Owner of an insurance agency

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Pittsburg State University

Why are you running for school board?

My sole motivation from the beginning has been to improve our school district and community. Plain and simple. That started with being a part of the school improvement council at my children’s elementary school. This ultimately led to my involvement on the bond referendum task force and then running for the school board four years ago.

From facility improvements to increasing curriculum and career opportunities for our students, improving our schools and our district is a win for everyone. I grew up in this community and attended Lexington 2 schools. My kids attend these same schools and my wife is a teacher in our district. I am a part of this community and I care about its success. At the end of the day, I want to leave it better than I found it.

What are the school district’s strengths?

We are a smaller district than some of our surrounding districts. This gives our students a better opportunity to excel and also more options from an extracurricular standpoint. We have a tremendous amount of community support for all of our schools. We have a family feel, unlike most larger districts. Our physical location will also give us advantages as we improve and increase our partnerships with Midlands Tech, the University of South Carolina and our business and industry neighbors.

What are the district’s biggest areas for improvement?

Now that our facility improvements are nearing completion, we need to continue to improve on the academic opportunities for our students. We certainly need to continue to expand our AP course offerings and our Early College model with Midlands Tech, but we also need to increase our career-oriented options for those students that are not college-bound.

Our new Lexington 2 Innovation Center that just opened will give us that opportunity. These students will have the ability to learn skills that can help them move into a successful career path.

Another area of opportunity for our district is in the arts. Our soon-to-be-built fine arts center will help with this, hopefully giving us the option of offering more arts-related courses, as well as giving us a performance venue that can be utilized by all of the schools in our district.

Wayne McKim

Occupation: Self-employed in the automobile business

Education: Bachelor’s degree in finance and real estate from the University of South Carolina; Juris Doctor degree from USC School of Law

Why are you running for school board?

I am running for Lexington 2 school board because I want to be an advocate for all the children at all the schools throughout our district. I think educating and protecting our children should be our top priority, and I am committed to making this a reality.

What are the school district’s strengths?

I believe Lexington 2’s strength is clearly its unyielding community loyalty and support. Our Lexington 2 community has proven time and time again its willingness to give our students and educators all the resources necessary to ensure our students have the best opportunities to achieve success.

What are the district’s biggest opportunities for improvement?

I believe Lexington 2’s biggest opportunity for improvement is financial responsibility and accountability. In order to best provide for our pressing classroom needs throughout the district, we must manage our resources efficiently. I have repeatedly called for transparency, accountability and oversight. This system of “checks and balances” is necessary to assure the parents and taxpayers that the decisions made by the board are truly in the best interest of the children and not just someone trying to further their personal agenda. This is crucial to our district restoring the public trust.

Michael Neal

Occupation: Retired two years ago from Lexington 2

Education: (Candidate did not answer)

Why are you running for the school board?

I am a Christian man and I believe in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have seen what people with no moral backbone have done to our community and there needs to be a change. With the understanding that change takes time, positive things can grow in Lexington School District 2.

What are the school district’s strengths?

The teachers and support staff. This is the biggest area the board needs to listen to and take note of in order to make its most positive changes.

What are the district’s biggest opportunities for improvement?

The school board needs to be better stewards of its funds, personnel and infrastructure. The education of the children is the utmost responsibility of the board and it, too, needs major work.

James Bud Summers

Occupation: Retired, former Columbia Water Works superintendent

Education: Associate of applied science in civil engineering from Howard University

Why are you running for school board?

For the better part of my adult life, I have volunteered to serve the youth of our Lexington 2 community — as a scout leader, baseball and soccer coach, booster club president and for the past 11 years, as a mentor with the Scooter Scott Project. I feel that these opportunities, my sincere desire to serve our community and my career experience will allow me to best serve our school board. If elected, my goal will be to ensure that every student is instructed on how to attain the resources needed to achieve their highest learning potential. I will work with all board members to establish renewed trust in one another.

What are the school district’s strengths?

A. Our most evident strength is our teachers, who have a genuine desire to train young minds, and who share a willingness to ensure that the needs of all students are satisfied. Teachers are the backbone of our educational system and need to be genuinely, regularly appreciated. We, in turn, also need to do our part in retaining these valuable educators.

B. Another strength is the Lexington 2 community, citizens and businesses that actively support our district and want it to be successful. We need to always make sure that the district is doing its part by lifting up our community to bring a better return on their investment in us.

What are the district’s biggest opportunities for improvement?

A. Recent and ongoing bond referendum facility improvements are apparent as you look around our district. Maintaining a safe and secure environment for our students and teachers in new and existing facilities will be a challenge. Yet, it is also an opportunity to be the best stewards of all of our campuses.

B. Having our board be less polarized on some issues and working for the common good of our district. It’s a proven fact that school boards demonstrating greater efforts toward teamwork bring out more constructive results in student achievement. Providing occasional community forums to discuss and review district matters with our stakeholders would be opportunities for improvement, as well. These forums would offer fair representation to all areas of our district.

C. Providing full disclosure on all district purchases, ensuring that adequate check and balance measures are in place to guarantee accountability of all budgetary activities.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Cueto can be reached at 803-771-8621, @isabellacueto
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